JetBlue adds Guayaquil in growing international footprint, but retreats out of former focus market Washington Dulles as underperforming routes are culled

All eyes are on JetBlue Airways as it continues to look at expanding its business activity outside of the Americas. Increasing public comments on potential trans-Atlantic expansion has increased speculation that a formal announcement could be forthcoming, but first the airline is working to ‘optimise’ its current network to  achieve the airline’s margin commitments and deliver long-term value to its shareholders.


Summary:

  • JetBlue Airways makes domestic and international route changes to “advance its strategy in multiple focus cities” and make it “even more relevant” in key markets;
  • The reallocation of service will result in a new JetBlue city in Ecuador, new service between current JetBlue cities, and additional flights on popular routes;
  • JetBlue acknowledges the growth is being facilitated by “reducing underperforming flying” and will see end to Daytona Beach, St Croix and Washington Dulles flights;
  • The closure of flights to Washington Dulles – while expected – marks a significant landmark for the carrier and ends flying to a former focus market.

The reallocation of service will result in a new JetBlue city in Ecuador, new service between current JetBlue cities, and additional flights on popular routes. The airline says a latest series of network changes “will advance its strategy in multiple focus cities” and make it “even more relevant” in its key markets, but to free up aircraft time for the introduction of the new flying, it will reduce underperforming service.

JetBlue will launch new daily Airbus A320 service to José Joaquín de Olmedo International Airport in Guayaquil, Ecuador, with flights from Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL) from the first quarter of 2019. Guayaquil will become the second JetBlue city in Ecuador – Quito launched in 2016 – and the sixth city market in South America.

The new flights between Fort Lauderdale and Guayaquil expand JetBlue’s footprint outside the US, and is part of a broader reach into international markets. In recent years the airline has built a developing network throughout Latin America and the Caribbean and now operates in 22 countries. JetBlue has a particularly strong presence in markets like Puerto Rico, Cuba and the Dominican Republic.

JetBlue will introduce four additional new routes this winter as it continues to join the dots within its network. These comprise daily links between Boston and Greater Rochester International Airport; Providence’s T. F. Green International Airport and Palm Beach International Airport; and linking Fort Lauderdale with Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport and St Maarten’s Princess Juliana International Airport.

In addition to the new nonstop JetBlue markets being introduced, the airline will also increase flights in nearly two dozen other markets in the Northeast US, Florida and the Caribbean. Roughly two-thirds of the added flights will originate in Boston or Fort Lauderdale, accelerating JetBlue’s focus city growth strategy and maintaining the airline’s market position in both markets (NOTE: CAPA members can get full details of the expanded service via the news channel on the airline’s profile).

CHART – JetBlue is the largest airline at Boston Logan International Airport (top) and Fort Lauderdale Hollywood International Airport (bottom) based on weekly departures Source: CAPA – Centre for Aviation and OAG (data: w/c 08-Oct-2018)

In JetBlue’s Boston focus city – in addition to new nonstop Rochester service – the airline will boost flights on nine existing routes. JetBlue will soon offer flights to more than 70 nonstop destinations – more than any other airline. Meanwhile, Fort Lauderdale continues to be one of JetBlue’s fastest-growing focus cities. The airline has committed to up to 140 daily departures in the coming years and recently expanded its operation to new gates in Terminal 3 and began utilising Terminal 1 for additional international arrivals to help support future growth.

JetBlue acknowledges that the growth is  being facilitated by “reducing underperforming flying”. It confirms that effective 08-Jan-2019 it will eliminate all services to Daytona Beach International Airport (currently served daily from New York JFK); St Croix’s Henry E Rohlsen Airport (daily from San Juan) and Washington Dulles International Airport (daily from Boston and New York JFK).

CHART – After gaining access at Washington Reagan National, JetBlue has significantly reduced its presence at Washington Dulles and will now suspend its two remaining routes into the airportSource: The Blue Swan Daily and OAG

The closure of flights to Washington Dulles International marks a significant landmark for the carrier. Gaining access into Washington Reagan National has changed its complete focus in the city, with Dulles having originally been one of the airline’s first focus destinations.

Elsewhere on its route map, JetBlue will scale back flying on a number of other “underperforming routes” from Jan-2019, including certain flights serving Baltimore, Detroit, Pittsburgh, and Santiago, Dominican Republic. In Mexico City, where JetBlue is launching new service from Boston and New York JFK, it will reduce twice daily service from both Fort Lauderdale and Orlando International Airport to once daily in the first quarter of 2019. Meanwhile, Portland International Jetport in Maine, JetBlue will transition from year-round to a summer-only seasonal market.