JetBlue is looking beyond Long Beach and Los Angeles, hinting that it will expand services at another Los Angeles-area airport.
Currently, JetBlue offers transcontinental service from Los Angeles to five cities and has a larger network out of Long Beach, serving destinations around the country.
But the relationship with Long Beach Airport has soured. LGB hit JetBlue with $1.2MN in fines in 2017 for breaking the 10pm – 7am curfew. JetBlue is fighting the fine, arguing that it should not be responsible for ATC issues beyond its control.
In an earnings calls yesterday, CEO Robin Hayes hinted that change is coming.
We will play on our strength as the preferred airline for coast-to-coast travel with new transcon flying from the LA Basin to be announced soon.
A reporter asked Hayes whether JetBlue would expand out of LA or start service at another LA airport. Hayes’ response was evasive:
You were listening. Look, I’m not going to say too much now.
Burbank or Orange Country (John Wayne) or Ontario?
I’m just speculating, but I don’t think JetBlue is going to expand out of Long Beach (the airport it is fighting and already has a robust schedule) or Los Angeles (with such fierce competition).
Instead, I believe JetBlue will either bolster service out of Burbank-Hollywood Airport or begin service to Orange County or Ontario. Currently, JetBlue serves New York JFK from Burbank once daily. JetBlue once had three flights per day between New York and Burbank and also served Washington Dulles and Orlando from Burbank. Service was trimmed during the “Great Recession” but the underlying market remains: studio traffic from Burbank and Hollywood make Burbank a compelling choice for new MINT service and a further expansion. BUR is also building a new terminal and is already served by JetSuiteX, JetBlue’s latest partner.
JetBlue does not currently service Orange County (SNA) and the affluent region would be another market JetBlue would likely see success in. Offering non-stop service to JFK and Boston would offer a compelling alternative to United’s service to Newark, which does not offer lie-flat seating in business class. No carrier serves JFK or BOS non-stop. Slot controls and runway length are two big drawbacks, though.
Finally, there is Ontario. Located in LA’s sprawling Inland Empire, it is not the most conveniently-located airport, but has plenty of room for growth. It is also hungry for growth. China Airlines recently started service to ONT from TPE. JetBlue could serve as a viable feeder and already partners with the Taiwan-based airline.
Hayes is traveling to the West Coast today with his team. I’m not sure an announcement will occur this week, but stay tuned. I’m (selfishly) hoping for expanded service from Burbank…