Today, October 7th was the first day of JetBlue’s Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) base opening. Last night, the carrier bid farewell to its old base at Long Beach Airport (LGB) in favor of a base at the larger international airport. For JetBlue’s future plans, the move to LAX made much sense.
JetBlue bids farewell to Long Beach
Back in July, JetBlue announced it would be moving over its Long Beach base to Los Angeles. The airline already flew out of LAX while it also had the Long Beach base. The airport was one of the carrier’s highest performing airports, already seeing premium transcontinental Mint services to New York and Boston.
The move had its fair share of fans and objections. JetBlue had been the dominant airline at Long Beach with its operating base. Nevertheless, JetBlue pushed forward and bid farewell to its LGB base on October 6th.
Today is @JetBlue's last day at LGB. We are forever grateful for their excellent service and the investment they made in the Long Beach community. Thank you for 19 great years! 💙 pic.twitter.com/HK4gqf90wt
— Long Beach Airport (@LGBAirport) October 6, 2020
Why JetBlue left Long Beach
JetBlue has big plans in a post-crisis world. The airline’s network, previously centered mostly around New York and Boston with sizable operations in Florida, was relatively weak on the West Coast, and Long Beach had some of its own problems.
LGB remains a domestic airport with no international customs facilities, meaning international flights have to come from airports with preclearance facilities. This restricts international flights to only from select cities in Canada, a few in the Caribbean, one in Bermuda, and the others in Abu Dhabi and Ireland. From Long Beach, JetBlue really did not have any interest in flying to any of these cities.
Severely restricting JetBlue’s international reach while also maintaining its status as a secondary airport in the Los Angeles region, in the current environment, JetBlue saw value in moving to LAX.
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JetBlue’s LAX base
Since announcing its Los Angeles base, JetBlue moved over seven routes to the airport, including Seattle, San Francisco, Salt Lake City, Las Vegas, Austin, and more. Since then, the carrier has also announced new domestic routes to Hartford, Richmond, Raleigh, and Charleston. Internationally, JetBlue is adding new routes to San Jose and Liberia (Costa Rica) and Cancun (Mexico).
JetBlue wants to get to 70 flights per day out of Los Angeles by 2025. As of now, the carrier is well on its way to get there. Using a fleet of Airbus A320ceo and A320neo family jets, the airline finally saw an opportunity to grow a West Coast focus city and expand its presence on the opposite coast, bringing more competition to the coasts and offering passengers more choices.
Which airline is going to grow in Long Beach?
LGB travelers will still have options out of the airport. In early September, Southwest Airlines won 17 new slots at the airport, meaning the carrier can double its current operations. This should be a boon for travelers, though Southwest may not add routes where JetBlue was flying. For one, Southwest does not fly to Montana.
Update on the allocation of flight slots: @SouthwestAir has requested all available slots at Long Beach Airport. With the new slots, Southwest will increase from 17 to 34 flight slots. ✈️👏🌴Read more➡️ https://t.co/Qr4ALaZDcl pic.twitter.com/Ff7ZpTLJo6
— Long Beach Airport (@LGBAirport) September 3, 2020
But, Southwest is known for its extensive domestic network, and that should likely grow out of Long Beach. Where and how much, however, is unclear, but the carrier will definitely take the top spot in Long Beach, which JetBlue previously held onto.
Are you sad to see JetBlue leaving Long Beach? Let us know in the comments!