Boutique US airline JetBlue is parking over 100 of its aircraft. This represents roughly 40% of its fleet. According to an airline letter to its investors, the aircraft will be parked in the Arizona desert as well as at “BlueCities” around the country. The decision to do so is a result of a significant schedule reduction amid falling demand from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Just a few weeks ago, we couldn’t get new aircraft fast enough to hit our growth plans. Now, we are taking steps to sit down the aircraft we have,” Chief Executive Officer Robin Hayes said in his statement to investors.
Hayes went on to say that preserving cash is the airline’s top priority and that it has had to make decisions it never expected to make. Hayes continued by saying “we must continue to make sacrifices where needed so that we can emerge from this unprecedented challenge”.
The airline has decided on a roughly 70% schedule reduction for the month of April. This is due to falling demand as many major cities and states are issuing shelter-in-place or stay-at-home advisories. The JetBlue decision may also be in anticipation of US President Donald Trump possibly imposing bans on some domestic flights to and from American coronavirus hotspots in an attempt to curb the spread of the outbreak.
Grounded fleets everywhere
JetBlue’s aircraft won’t be the only ones in storage in the vast deserts of the southern United States. All major US carriers have had to ground portions of their fleet. In fact, this is in addition to the existing 737 MAX aircraft that have been on the ground for a year now.
We recently discussed in detail where American Airlines is storing its aircraft:
- In Tulsa, Oklahoma, the airline is storing its Boeing 757s, 777-200s, 777-300ERs and 787-8 and -9s. These join its grounded Boeing 737 MAX 8s at TUL airport.
- In Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania you will find its Airbus A320s, A321s and A330s as well as some Embraer E-190s.
- Over in Roswell, New Mexico, the carrier has parked its Boeing 737-800s along with some 757s, 767s and 777-200s.
- And in Mobile, Alabama, you’ll find a few A321s and 777-200s.
Hayes concluded his letter to investors with some encouraging words:
“While every day right now feels endless, this will not last forever. We are already thinking about what the world will look like when we come out of this. Just like after 9/11, some things will go back to normal and others will change for good and we need to prepare for that. With our incredible team, disruptive brand, low fares, and low-cost structure, I think JetBlue can do some great things in this new reality.”
Hopefully, this return to normal will come sooner rather than later. For now, it’s a question of who can last the longest in this harsh economic climate.