JetBlue To Serve Canada For The First Time

JetBlue is finally to enter Canada, with routes coming to Vancouver from both New York JFK and Boston. Both routes had non-stop service previously, which is the gap that JetBlue is targeting – aided by strong fares.

JetBlue A321neo
JetBlue will serve Vancouver in 2022. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying.

JetBlue is to begin serving Canada for the first time with new routes to Vancouver from both New York JFK and Boston. JFK will be year-round, while Boston will be summer-seasonal, both using the A321neo.

Owing to the currently closed border between Canada and the US for all but essential travel, which has now been the case for over a year, both routes will begin in 2022. Speaking of the announcement, Tamara Vrooman, President and CEO of the Vancouver Airport Authority, said:

“We’re delighted that JetBlue has selected Vancouver as its first Canadian destination. As we move through the pandemic and prepare for a safe and healthy return to non-essential travel, this new service, scheduled for Summer 2022, gives us all something to look forward to.”

JetBlue to Canada
Vancouver-JFK is some 2,449 miles, while Boston is 2,514. Image: GCMap.

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Also, a lack of capacity?

The extended lead-in time for JetBlue to launch Vancouver – as well as other new destinations, such as Kansas City, Milwaukee, and San Antonio – might also be at least partly from a lack of available capacity. This summer, JetBlue’s planned seats exceed the level in summer 2019 – even if it is by less than 1% – based on OAG data from April 19th.

JetBlue A321neo
JetBlue will serve JFK year-round, while Boston will be summer-seasonal. Photo: Adam Moreira via Wikimedia.

Why Vancouver?

Vancouver to New York JFK had around 160,000 two-way point-to-point (P2P) passengers in 2019, booking data obtained via OAG Traffic Analyser reveals. A good chunk of this was non-stop with Cathay Pacific on its Hong Kong-Vancouver-JFK service, the result of the airline having fifth-freedom traffic flights to carry passengers and cargo between the two North American airports.

Cathay Pacific’s one-stop service came to an end in 2020, with this planned even before COVID struck. Despite operating for 23 years, it was a loss-making service, the Hong Kong-based airline told Simple Flying in 2019. The gap that remains – there is no non-stop from Vancouver to JFK – drives JetBlue, likewise a pretty one-way high fare of $349 in 2019, excluding taxes, any add-ons, and fuel surcharges.

JetBlue A321neo
Many other opportunities from Vancouver to the US exist for different airlines. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying.

JFK and Boston will mainly be P2P

JFK will largely be P2P, likewise Boston. In 2019, Vancouver-Boston had around 90,000 round-trip passengers, with the majority flying indirectly via Toronto. This is despite Air Canada operating non-stop between Vancouver and Boston, which began in 2017 and used A319s. In 2019, it operated once-daily for 13 weeks between June and September. It is unlikely that Air Canada will resume the route.

Cathay Pacific B777-300ER
In the last week that Cathay Pacific operated Vancouver to JFK, it departed from the Canadian city at 2205 and arrived at JFK at 0500. It then left JFK at 2150 and arrived in Vancouver some six hours later at 0050. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying.

Miami is key for Vancouver

Miami stands out for Vancouver, which would be an obvious addition for American Airlines. The Florida airport had 56,000 round-trip Vancouver passengers in 2019, booking data indicates, while nearby Fort Lauderdale had a further 76,000. Could JetBlue be interested in Fort Lauderdale to Vancouver?

Not only was Miami large in itself, but it would also be an obvious airport to target the 750,000+ passengers from the Canadian city to South America, Central America, and the Caribbean. This 750,000 excludes all of Mexico aside from Cancun, or else the backtracking would be extreme. The appeal to American might be aided by it having only an 8% share of all Vancouver-Latin America traffic.

What are your thoughts on JetBlue entering Canada? Comment below!