In a seismic reshuffle that hints at JetBlue’s international ambitions, JetBlue will leave Long Beach Airport and base Southern California operations at LAX.
JetBlue Will Add LAX Base
Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) is one of JetBlue’s “most successful and profitable” markets. Prior to COVID-19, it had sought to grow at LAX, but had been unable to obtain the necessary gates. But the pandemic created an opportunity and JetBlue has secured additional gates. It will also move its Flight, Inflight, and Tech Ops bases to LAX. Now JetBlue plan to triple its number of flights from LAX by 2025 including adding international service:
Today we offer about 20 flights per day at LAX and have plans to grow to about 70 flights per day by 2025.
In the meantime, JetBlue will add 10-12 additional flights per day and start serve to the following cities:
- Austin (AUS)
- Bozeman (BZN)
- Las Vegas (LAS)
- Reno (RNO)
- Seattle (SEA)
- Salt Lake City (SLC)
- San Francisco (SFO)
All of these routes come from Long Beach (LGB).
This aggressive moves challenges a host of carriers, including Southwest Airlines. Coupled with its coast-to-coast service to Newark and JFK in New York City, Boston, Buffalo, Ft. Lauderdlae, and Orlando, JetBlue hopes to build a stronger hub to better compete on the West Coast.
Why Is JetBlue Leaving Long Beach?
JetBlue can trace its origins back to Long Beach (LGB), but the airport has been a constant source of tension for JetBlue. As JetBlue explained it:
This move presents a path for us to be a greater player on the West Coast, without the limitations imposed at Long Beach Airport, which include a nightly curfew, slot limits, and no international arrivals capabilities. For many years, we faced stiff resistance to international growth, which we believed would have helped turn around the station’s financial underperformance. In light of the deep impact of coronavirus and the long road to recovery, we can no longer sustain these losses, especially when such a promising opportunity for our company’s future has opened up at LAX.
JetBlue’s last day of operations in Long Beach is planned for October 7th. Service to Portland, Oregon will not transition to LAX, while other routes will.
LGB-based crewmembers will be transferred to the LAX and ground staff will be offered priority to move to LAX or other JetBlue stations.
A note to employees from CEO Robin Hayes best sums up the situation:
Today’s news is bittersweet as we plan to say farewell to an airport and a community that’s been part of our company’s story from our earliest days while also recognizing this move is the right one for our future as we prepare for our next decade of growth.
With so much red tape at LGB and opportunity at LAX, the move makes a lot of sense. I’m a bit surprised that JetBlue will not maintain a couple flights, like it does in Burbank (BUR), but perhaps it is not worth the effort and also a warning to other airports that burdensome restrictions will result in the loss of air service.
Are you excited about JetBlue’s expansion at LAX?