JetBlue wants to fly to Amsterdam. But, facing difficulties obtaining slots at Schiphol Airport, the carrier took the unusual step of filing a formal complaint against the government of the Netherlands. And now it wants the US Department of Transportation to negotiate on its behalf, or require KLM to cede slots to enable service.
JetBlue’s initial application for slots sought those forfeit by Aeroflot after the carrier was banned from most European airspace owing to its invasion of Ukraine. Rather than grant those slots, however, JetBlue says that the government chose to retire the slots from service.
Read more: JetBlue teases new routes, international connections with Spirit merger
A second request came as JetBlue found a partner from which it could acquire slots. Again, however, regulators denied JetBlue’s request. In this scenario regulators required that JetBlue and the other carrier engage in “joint operations” such as a joint venture in order to approve the transfer. ANCL, the regulator in question, declared the a codeshare agreement on the flight would not be sufficient to meet the joint operations requirement.
JetBlue also applied for access to the slots recently vacated by the collapse of Flybe’s operations. That request, as with the others, was denied.
JetBlue sums its complaint:
The Dutch Government is pursuing a capacity-reduction plan that provides no pathway for a new entrant such as JetBlue to begin service at AMS. Although both the WASG and EU Slot Regulation provide for 50% of the slot pool to be set aside specifically for new entrants, that accommodation is illusory where, as here, the slot coordinator and foreign government concerned have committed to a policy of retiring slots that would otherwise be returned to the pool while simultaneously drastically reducing the level of operations at the airport.
Where the complaint gets VERY interesting is in the remedy sought:
If the Dutch authorities do not grant JetBlue the slots (such as the ones recently made available through Aeroflot’s and FlyBe’s discontinuation of service at the airport) necessary for JetBlue to access AMS and enter the U.S.-Netherlands market, the Department should require KLM to provide such slots (at least two slot pairs) to JetBlue.
Essentially, JetBlue notes that KLM is party to the Blue Skies transatlantic joint venture, including Delta Air Lines, Air France, and Virgin Atlantic. That group controls more than 60% of slots at Schiphol and 85% of the US-Netherlands nonstop market. Most significantly, JetBlue argues “the slot system at AMS, including ACNL’s arbitrary interpretations and decisions, serves as a barrier to new entry by JetBlue, thereby unfairly insulating the Blue Skies Alliance from the very type of competitive conditions that the Department has deemed necessary to grant ATI.”
A favor to ask while you're here...
Did you enjoy the content? Or learn something useful? Or generally just think this is the type of story you'd like to see more of? Consider supporting the site through a donation (any amount helps). It helps keep me independent and avoiding the credit card schlock.
When the airport has forced KLM to cut the most flights out of AMS because the airport itself had become a mess for reasons not of KLM’s making, it would be quite a slap in the face of AMS’s biggest customer to see its flight capacity at AMS remain restricted while other airlines are allowed to grow their flight capacity at AMS without allowing KLM to do the same.
I do hope to see JetBlue service at AMS and CDG.
Not really a surprise that Needleman’s baby would eventually bust a move toward continental
Europe too — even less so after its comfort level with LHR grew. Its going international should have never been a surprise for an airline that wanted to go big at JFK and became so, even as its international routes began with places within the Americas. If not for that US WHTI requirement demanding passports for air travel out of the US, JetBlue’s international growth path may have been different than it is turning out to be.
What is also not surprising is that JetBlue’s European growth aim began with LHR and goes into AMS and CDG next. Will Germany be next for JetBlue, or Italy? I have my doubts about Germany making as much sense for JetBlue as LHR, CDG and AMS.
Seth Miller says
Germany or Italy will require the A321XLR; the current A321LRs don’t have that range.
I’m not sure the WHTI passport rule skewed the growth too much. Without the LRs Europe was just too far away to operate reliably and profitably. And it is not like JetBlue’s Caribbean expansion has been particularly timid.
I was looking to see where JetBlue seeks to use force, such as hitting KLM pilots with a shovel. Alternatively, the headline might suggest that JetBlue seeks slots that KLM took by force, such as by using a gun against someone, maybe the Amsterdam airport authorities.
Good to see that no force was used.
Seth Miller says
There are plenty of ways to force things without physical violence. If it gets to the point that the US DOT tells KLM it cannot keep its JV without ceding slots, that’s definitely a forceful move.
JetBlue staff are aware of laws in all countries that prevent violence.
May I suggest “By Legal Means” or “By Law Suit”?
Seth Miller says
And “by force” doesn’t always mean violence. If the US DOT sides with JetBlue and requires KLM to cede slots that it otherwise would not give up that’s a pretty forceful move.