JetBlue Delays Embraer E190 Retirement Plans To Support Growth

JetBlue has announced that it will be delaying its Embraer E190 retirements. The airline owns 30 E190s outright and plans to fly them beyond 2026, with no firm retirement date as of now. The airline plans to keep its Embraer jets around to support the opportunities available under the Northeast Alliance (NEA) with American Airlines.

JetBlue E190
JetBlue will be keeping its 30 owned aircraft for longer than anticipated. Photo: Getty Images

JetBlue delays Embraer E190 retirements

Alongside its second-quarter earnings report, JetBlue announced some fleet-related plans that will help support its growth in the coming years. The biggest development is that the carrier will hold onto its smallest jets, the Embraer E190s, for a few years longer than expected. Here is what Ursula Hurley, acting Chief Financial Officer, had to say on the retirement delays:

“In regards to the E190s, at this point in time we have delayed the retirement of the 30 owned aircraft, and we will evaluate over time the optimal time from a cost perspective, as well as capitalizing on the NEA opportunity to determine the most optimal time to retire those aircraft.”

JetBlue Getty
The Embraer E190s are expected to be used to target longer-term growth opportunities under the NEA and fill in until more A220s arrive. Photo: Getty Images

JetBlue has 60 Embraer E190s in its fleet. Half of them are owned, the other half are leased. JetBlue still intends to return the 30 leased E190s between 2023 and 2026.

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JetBlue’s E190s

The E190s seat 100 passengers in a single-class configuration. The planes are equipped with seatback entertainment, and the planes feature access to free high-speed WiFi.

The Embraer E190s serve a variety of missions for JetBlue. They are excellent for a variety of short- and thin missions. The jets can be found flying to cities like Detroit, Key West, Minneapolis, Buffalo, Raleigh, Charleston, and more. The planes work on leisure-oriented missions to smaller destinations and for flights to competitor hubs.

JetBlue planned to replace the Embraer E190s with the Airbus A220s, which are larger, more fuel-efficient, and more cost-efficient aircraft than the E190s.

JetBLue A220
The long-term plan is to transition the E190s out of the fleet in favor of the A220. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

How the NEA changes matters

The NEA with American Airlines is a huge benefit for JetBlue because it becomes relevant to more customers. The airline can market American’s flights to places like Tel Aviv, Athens, or Rome and one day Delhi, just as a few examples, to its own customers and help get some additional connecting feed.

Another aspect is an increased presence at LaGuardia. A heavily congested airport, gaining an increased presence here is no easy task, but the NEA has enabled JetBlue to gain a bigger footprint in LaGuardia.

JetBlue E190
JetBlue’s Embraer E190s are versatile. Photo: Jay Singh | Simple Flying

The question now is what opportunities JetBlue will use its E190s for and how long it decides to keep the E190s on. The aircraft are versatile and could also be redistributed to other bases.

The other option could be that JetBlue deploys the E190s on regional routes that American Airlines flew. This would allow American to utilize more of its slots and infrastructure for large gauge and longer-haul flying. Time will tell how JetBlue chooses to utilize this fleet.

The NEA is also under attack from other airlines pushing hard for a more extensive review of the alliance. This could complicate plans down the line, though JetBlue and American are continuing to move ahead with the NEA.

Are you glad that JetBlue is delaying the retirement of its Embraer E190s? Let us know in the comments!