JetBlue has United Airlines in its crosshairs with several new leisure routes from Newark Liberty International Airport.
JetBlue Challenges United Airlines’ Newark Dominance
While JetBlue maintains a hub at New York Kennedy (JFK), it has grown substantially at Newark over the last year, with new transcontinental routes and service to Florida.
As part of the joint announcement by American and JetBlue yesterday concerning their new codeshare routes and Northeast collaboration, JetBlue will add service to the following destinations from Newark:
- Aguadilla, Puerto Rico (BQN) [year-around]
- Cartagena, Colombia (CTG) [year-around]
- Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts (MVY) [seasonal]
- Nantucket, Massachusetts (ACK) [seasonal]
- Port-au-Prince, Haiti (PAP) [year-around]
- Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic (POP) [year-around]
- Seattle, Washington (SEA) [seasonal]
- St. John’s, Antigua (ANU) [year-around]
- St. Lucia (UVF) [year-around]
- St. Thomas, USVI (STT) [year-around]
With the exception of Seattle, each of those destinations is leisure-oriented. It also marks a direct assault on United’s dominance at Newark.
How Will United Airlines Respond?
In the era of Scott Kirby, United does not retreat from a challenge. While former CEO Jeff Smisek responded to competition by pulling out of markets, Kirby has made clear from his early days at United that United will not cede domestic market share without a fight. We saw that in Denver when Southwest Airlines added service to Hawaii.
More recently, we have seen it in Colorado Springs, where United has gone from a station offering only United Express service to offering multiple mainline flights per day to both Denver and Chicago (and re-established service to Los Angeles). Why the sudden upgauge in capacity? Southwest Airlines begins service to Colorado Springs next month, with service to:
- Chicago (MDW)
- Dallas (DAL)
- Denver (DEN)
- Las Vegas (LAS)
- Phoenix (PHX)
I expect that United will match JetBlue at every turn in Newark, spurring a price war in an attempt to preserve its dominance. I would also expect additional United routes at Boston or New York JFK. Neither JetBlue nor United will win in that situation, but consumers certainly will.
JetBlue is not the first carrier to challenge United Airlines at Newark. Southwest Airlines also tried…and failed, eventually pulling completely from the market. Watch for lower fares out of Newark once JetBlue’s flight schedule is loaded: it will be a great time for consumers.
Editor’s Note: United Airlines has responded by introducing new service between Boston and London Heathrow. This article was written before that announcement was made.