JetBlue Looks To Consolidate Flights In Major Cities

JetBlue has today announced that it will be consolidating flights to just one or two major airports of the country’s five largest destinations. The announcement comes after the airline’s decision to cut its services by 80% in April and park more than 40% of its fleet. The suspension of flights to select airports will take place from April 15th to June 10th. The decision seems to be a part of JetBlue’s response to meet the guidelines laid down by the federal relief aid package.

It might be hard to spot a JetBlue aircraft in the sky, given the number of flights it will operate. Photo: JetBlue

What is federal relief aid for airlines?

The United States government had announced in March its plans to release funding worth $50 billion to rescue the airline industry due to the ongoing crisis. The federal aid will be provided to all airlines in the United States as long as they meet specific guidelines. One of these guidelines is for airlines to maintain services to every city they operated before March 1. Hence, the consolidation of services to one or two major airports of a city seems practical.

What is JetBlue’s plan?

During normal operations, JetBlue flies out of 15 airports in the country’s five biggest metropolitan cities. However, after its consolidation plans, flights to eight of these airports will be suspended.

The planned schedule for April is as follows:

  1. New York: 30 departures from Newark Liberty (EWR) and New York (JFK)
  2. Los Angeles: Five departures from Long Beach (LGB) and Los Angeles (LAX)
  3. Boston: 28 departures from Boston Logan (BOS)
  4. Washington: Five departures from Washington Reagan National (DCA)
  5. San Francisco: Two departures from San Francisco (SFO)

Flights to and from the following airports have been suspended:

  • Providence (PVD) in Boston
  • Burbank (BUR) and Ontario (ONT) in Los Angeles
  • Newburgh (SWF), New York LaGuardia (LGA) and White Plains (HPN) in New York
  • San Jose (SJC) in San Francisco 
  • Baltimore/Washington (BWI) in Washington
JetBlue Airbus tailfins
JetBlue will only fly out of major airports in the United States’ five biggest cities. Photo: JetBlue

How are other airlines reacting?

Due to the absence of travel demand, meeting the requirements for the aid package won’t be easy. Operating to every destination on their route map might require airlines to innovate a new strategy. One such strategy is all about connections.

The US-based carriers have started replacing non-stop routes to a given destination by operating a single flight out of a chosen hub. For example, Alaska Airlines has canceled six non-stop flights out of Seattle and connected them via existing services through its intermediate hubs. Similarly, American Airlines has canceled various non-stop routes and replaced them with existing services out of its Charlotte and Dallas hubs.

JetBlue’s strategy might have an edge over that of others. Photo: JetBlue

However, JetBlue’s plan looks to be the most practical. Instead of operating a given destination from a specific hub, JetBlue can operate flights to a city from places where demand exists. The consolidation of services to fewer airports is a more convincing approach. It is possible that, in the coming weeks, other airlines follow this strategy too.

Let us know what you think of JetBlue’s plan in the comments.