American carrier JetBlue is confident business will be getting back to normal by winter. After springtime lows, demand is now climbing, and JetBlue reckons a combination of factors will soon see passengers returning to the skies again in large numbers. It is an optimistic tone from the sixth-largest airline in the United States.
Schedules are ramping up
The Long Island-based carrier has been steadily ramping up its schedules as people tentatively head back to the airport. This month, JetBlue is running at about 25%-30% of its usual capacity. In July, the airline hopes to be running at about 50% of its usual capacity. By autumn, JetBlue hopes to ramp things up even further. By winter, JetBlue reckons the siren call of warm sunshine will encourage even more people to step aboard.
In an interview at the recent World Aviation Festival, Joanna Geraghty, President, and COO of JetBlue said;
“I think during the summer, many people will choose to drive over taking a flight to go to a vacation destination. I think people are maybe going to have shorter haul vacation destinations.
“But in the winter, when you start thinking about the future, moving from one climate to another, a warmer climate in the wintertime is going to continue to be a really important thing for our customers.”
The weather matters
Ms Geraghty spoke at length about how seasons and weather help determine the demand for airline travel. She said that in summer, many people are happy to go for a driving holiday, driving a few hours every day and stopping along the way.
But Ms Geraghty underscores a couple of further points – driving can only take you so far, and weather matters. When it’s winter in American’s north, and snow is thick on the ground, driving losses its appeal, and the lure of somewhere warm becomes stronger.
“People love to travel. People want to experience different things. Driving a couple of hours is great, and I think there’s a lot of things you can do there, But at the end of the day people want to fly to Europe, they want to go to Asia, they want to go to the Caribbean, they want to visit their family and relatives in other parts of the United States.”
Get the international business back on track
Usually, JetBlue has about 1,000 daily flights around the United States, and into Mexico, the Caribbean, Central America, and South America. Flight frequency has been a bit more threadbare lately. The airline has to suspend services to dozens of markets. But JetBlue is returning to 13 international destinations this month as it sees some uptick in demand.
JetBlue is also persevering with its transatlantic ambitions. It still wants to head to London next year, promising to disrupt the transatlantic status quo when it does so.
“I do think that COVID has potentially created a number of opportunities for JetBlue in Europe, whether it’s slot availability or gate availability,” Ms Geraghty said.
It’s a positive tone from an airline that has been hit hard by the travel downturn. But as the JetBlue President notes, flying is here to stay, and people will always return to the airports. From JetBlue’s point of view, that makes their business a winner.
“I do think that the airline industry is indispensable. It’s opened up tremendous opportunities for so many people, whether it’s exposure to different cultures, whether it’s seeing your friends… I don’t think there’s a replacement for air travel.”
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