JetBlue Expected To Pull The Plug On West Coast Flying

JetBlue is struggling financially. The government shut down their two main plays to grow – partnering with American Airlines, and buying Spirit – though they were overpaying for Spirit and the strategic rationale for the acquisition simply no longer made sense without the Airlines Airlines partnership (which provided an opportunity to grow in New York and Boston, for which they needed planes and pilots).

They have Carl Icahn breathing down their neck. Their new CEO needs a turnaround plan. So far they’re raising fees. They clearly need to cut money-losing flying, but that’s not going to be enough.

  • Their West Coast operation performs poorly
  • Their transatlantic flying has been weak
  • Their brand has eroded, as a result of on-time performance at the bottom of the industry and an erosion of their inflight product over the past 15 years, reducing the differentiation between them and competitors (although still offering a bit more legroom, seat back TVs, and free Wifi).

Aviation watchdog JonNYC says that the network is going to see changes – cuts to unprofitable flying – and we’re days away from a reveal that scales back Los Angeles. He first teased that as the plan last month:

Now he reports that it is happening:

It makes sense for JetBlue to fly to Los Angeles from New York, Boston and perhaps Fort Lauderdale. But their LAX operation has been bleeding beyond that. Their other flying includes Los Angeles to:

  • Las Vegas
  • San Francisco
  • Salt Lake City
  • Miami
  • Orlando
  • Reno
  • Los Cabos
  • Liberia, Costa Rica
  • Buffalo
  • West Palm Beach
  • Nassau

JetBlue needs to build back Boston. They’ve allowed Delta to grow as they focused on New York during the time of their American Airlines partnership. They should clearly re-engage American Airlines on a partnership, pull back from the West Coast, and focus on the Northeast – a return to their roots.

The West Coast has long been a potential market for JetBlue. They bid against Alaska for Virgin America and considered trying to buy Alaska itself. On their own they lack scale, and routes are pretty picked over.

The big question is how much JetBlue will pull down Los Angeles, and whether it’s enough for someone else to get some of their gates at the airport?

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Delta did not state it is the largest player in entertainment contracts on its 3Q call.

    “As you point out, we’re very big in both of those sectors” is all Glenn said re scale during the 3Q call.

    An analyst asking a question said “I think of any carrier probably the most indexed to the automotive sector and then sort of the media sector with the writers’ and actors’ strike”

    sort of is the phrase…so no fact there and not from a Delta exec.

    Reality is LAX is a 3 horse race no one dominates, and I’d guess that as well for the entertainment contracts. They all have a piece and the contracts aren’t necessarily exclusive either. The A list has been siphoned off to private charter the last 20 years so what’s left is less of the super premium.

  2. Robin Hayes totally screwed up JetBlue. They had their problems before, but he destroyed whatever mojo they once had.

  3. A220

    The logic that AA fankids spouted was that they got the Hollywood corporate contracts because of first class. Supposedly DL and UA didn’t get it because they didn’t have it.
    Obviously, Hollywood changed its mind or the reason for AA FC was never because of Hollywood. You take your pick. The fact that DL is, at the minimum, a major provider for Hollywood corporate travel says that FC is not necessary.

    And as much as anyone wants to argue otherwise, LAX is still competitive but that doesn’t mean that someone isn’t larger – and someone used to be larger but isn’t now.
    Funny how some people love to argue about size until the discussion accurately turns to the fact that their preferred carrier isn’t as large as they thought it was.

    on the one hand you admit that AA has pulled back to its core hubs and then you argue with the fact that AA has been replaced by DL in many corporate contracts.

    Everyone has their core hubs and there is corporate traffic – including for Hollywood – to those hubs.
    It is the “competitive markets” that make the difference in corporate contract.

    Delta has simply added many of the extra routes that win corporate contracts; the reason why DL carries far more corporate traffic in the US than AA or UA is because of the size of DL’s network on mainline aircraft. Once again, DL mainline flew more mainline RPMs than AA or UA.

    And, yes, I know well what you have said – but all of the positive you might have said was lost when you argued about what happened on the internet a decade and a half ago.

    Leave the past behind, stop trying to eliminate a competitive voice and we’ll all get along just fine.

  4. I have heard Gary mention the Transatlantic business is doing badly for B6 but have never once seen any actual data to back that up. Load factors, revenue, CASM/RASM for each route etc. If they were doing so badly why are they expanding to DUB, EDI (and I hear rumour of LIS next, plus FLL – Eur flying if they ever get the XLRs). B6 could do with a partner airline in Europe to feed more traffic beyond London, CDG & AMS

  5. It doesn’t surprise me. I was an avid Jet Blue flier when they were in Long Beach. Easy in and out.. direct flights to where I needed to go. Once they moved put to LAX, forget it. Jet Blue was my favorite airline. But now, with the limited flights, difficulty getting to LAX (traffic and parking is horrible), bad decision on their part, I can’tget behind them. They should’ve just taken over Long Beach Airport.l and upped their sell if flying out of there. Too bad.

  6. Meanwhile, in the last hour, JetBlue sends me a time change (slightly earlier) for the return flight of my LAX-BUF trip at the end of April.

  7. Having anything to do with Carl Ichan would be the denise of JetBlue. He screwed over thousands of employees at TWA and ran off with millions in his pocket.

  8. If they would stop concentrating so much on the international market and ignoring their domestic routes maybe they wouldn’t be in so much trouble. The JFK – LAS used to be great = now we get the broken down planes (even Mint aircraft) seats are uncomfortable, IFE is always an issue, snacks went from being really good to mediocre etc…. Someone destroyed this airline. They need someone who understands the airline industry and bring it back to what it once was. Very sad.

  9. The inability of LGB willing to grow their operations and allow B6 (and other airlines) to expand was part of the issue.

    LGB was unable to convince the residents there to allow them to operate more flights, and B6 at the time felt it was not going to be able to grow if they’re constrained at the airport.

    Unfortunate situation at LGB as it will always be a boutique airport due to those restrictions.

  10. If you look at flight tracking by operator on Flightaware right now, all the B6 jet are concentrated along the east coast. LAX is the only west coast operation.
    B6 is at a crossroads, develop a focus city in the midwest or retreat back to the east coast with zero growth.
    Should The Donald win, it will be sold to the highest bidder. Should Sleepy Joe win, it will die a slow death via Carl hacking pieces off one by one.
    No win situation.

  11. Just another step towards the inevitable purchase by United.

    “Fixing” the airline was never in JetBlue’s future the minute Carl Ichan got involved.

  12. @atl100million

    American Airlines has long standing and deep ties to the entertainment industry. This (along with a few other reasons not worth mentioning) is why so many Hollywood people fly AA.

    Yes some do prefer and do fly United and Delta or Jetblue but American is the dominant carrier in the industry.

    Tim, I checked that earnings call thrice now. Delta just said they were big in LA and nothing else. Of course the strike would have a greater effect on the SoCal economy and hence Deltas performance in LAX.

    Nowhere did Delta say they stole a lot of corporate contracts or became the preferred carrier of Hollywood. Your lies don’t meet the sniff test.

  13. @320Driver, JetBlue seems to being targeted by this regime. Maybe their situation would change with regime change.

  14. A220,
    you continue to be torn by wanting to contribute meaningfully and to live in the past.

    As noted, Delta itself did not say that it was the largest but an analyst noted that DL was “the most indexed” to the auto and entertainment industries.

    The point still remains that there are a number of AA “fankids” that continue to cling to a world that no longer exists.
    As I noted, AA used to be the largest airline at LAX and had the majority of the entertainment contracts because of FC transcon and international which was heavily focused on LHR. AA is dropping its first class strategy both on the domestic and longhaul widebody

    Cranky Flier is again today focusing on AA’s high percentage of RJs and small city strategy.
    As much as you want to cling to the past, AA has lost share in large markets including w/ corporate contracts and including with Hollywood.

    focus on the present instead of the past including where and how people “play” on the internet today instead of trying to argue about a past that no longer exists.

    You don’t seem to want to tell us whether Hollywood c

  15. JetBlue canceled their LAX-Cabo flight, that map is outdated. They fly to Puerto Vallarta now from LAX.

  16. Leaving in Boston area loved flying Jet Blue. Now can never get a flight, their rates have skyrocketed, service is not what it was. The person running Jet Blue should listen to patrons flying it. Go back to your roots, service areas, stay what Jet Blue was; Good.

  17. “And as much as anyone wants to argue otherwise, LAX is still competitive but that doesn’t mean that someone isn’t larger – and someone used to be larger but isn’t now.
    Funny how some people love to argue about size until the discussion accurately turns to the fact that their preferred carrier isn’t as large as they thought it was.”

    Such true words, Tim… If only one specific Delta fanboy realized that loyalty programs are where money is made in the industry these days. Which, in turn, means while it’s important to fly your own metal, it also matters, A LOT, where you can redeem your miles and where your loyalty is recognized in a large market like LA and SoCal.

    Of course AA is smaller in LAX than a few years ago. Are they gone? no. Is their terminal under construction temporarily? yes. And frankly, they’ve lost no gates as a result of their smaller size which matters given how LAWA allocates gates.

    Have they lost any relevance in the market? No. They’re smaller in LAX than Delta from a metal perspective, but bigger in share from a loyalty perspective at LAX and, more importantly, from a loyalty perspective in Southern California where Alaska’s presence at the major SoCal airports is a huge benefit to AA flyers. To say nothing of the fact that Delta has a smaller presence at the other major SoCal markets as well which does matter since many SoCal flyers prefer LAX while others only take it when the nonstops are more convenient and prefer their local airport like SBA, ONT, BUR, or SNA.

    You can keep saying your usual nonsense about Delta metal at LAX. Of course it’s true that Delta is bigger from a metal perspective, but it only betrays your own ignorance about the aviation industry and how AA has only increased relevance in Southern California and LAX during the last two years, to say nothing of international partners at LAX where Delta partners just don’t hold a candle to AA in terms of important markets out of LAX.

    It says a lot that Delta ran away (sprinted might be the better term; ironic since only a year ago you told everyone that one gate at Love Field for Delta was basically the end of WN and AA in DFW. lol) from LAX-DAL after barely a few months on the market and couldn’t keep their own metal on LAX-LHR (since you care so much about metal until it doesn’t suit your narrative…).

    Sorry buddy, I know you only have one train of thought, but the world of aviation is a lot bigger than painted metal in a market as large as Southern California. To suggest otherwise and to try and frame an entire narrative around it only suggests ignorance of how integral loyalty programs have become to profitability.

    Related to the topic, however, it will be interesting to see if JetBlue and AA resume some form of partnership where loyal AA members could benefit from mileage accrual and enhanced elite recognition on the B6 flights out of LAX and BUR.

  18. Reminder that Tim Dunn went under the moniker of atl100million on

    Worldtraveler, your lie about Delta and Hollywood has been exposed. You can keep making stuff up but frankly no one is buying it anymore.

    Okay but fine let’s look at your “indexed” claim.

    The Analyst, Mike Lindenberg, mentioned the indexed claim in relation to the Auto industry, and Detroit is VERY dependent on this industry.

    Then Lindenberg said “and then sort of the media sector.” Doesn’t exactly sound like DAL has a huge presence here if he said “sort of.” The only reason he even mentioned this was because the question was in regards to **underperforming** sector’s.

    The rest of your comment is strawmanning me as an AA Shill despite me not being so. Keep gaslighting yourself Timmy

  19. you started well, Max, but you went off on the deep end of bias.

    You are correct that AA is not short of gates at LAX even though plenty of other people use that as an excuse for why AA has shrunk.

    You lose it when you claim that AA is the largest by loyalty – because you simply don’t provide data to back up your claim. Feel free to provide it if you have it, but I know you don’t any more than any other person does.

    and the point of loyalty programs is to generate, wait, wait, loyalty. AA can’t live on the value of its loyalty and not fly esp. in competitive markets
    As much as you and others including Gary want to believe otherwise, no US airline makes enough from their loyalty program to offset losses they incur in trying to keep up w/ larger markets. At the same time, they can’t make up for the revenue they don’t generate flying by using revenue from loyalty in a large highly competitive market. It is simply impossible for AA to make up for the revenue it doesn’t carry any longer from LAX to keep up with what DL actually does carry as the largest carrier.

    And DL generates more revenue from its loyalty and card programs than any other airline – US or not. AA’s loyalty program is not a competitive unique advantage any longer; and UA does recognize that the reason why DL’s card and loyalty program does so well is because of DL’s larger size in the domestic market. DL carries more domestic RPMs on its own metal than any other airline.

    to no surprise, you camp on exceptions and anecdotes and draw conclusions which are simply illogical and unsupported by data.
    Delta moves flights around at Love Field because it has a gate of its own to use and is free to do that – just as every other airline can do at any other airport.
    Delta is not changing the number of flights from Love Field but is doubling down on heading east instead of splitting its capacity from Love Field going east and west.
    You don’t know the reasons they are choosing to do that but you are drawing the wrong conclusion because they have failed because you simply do not have the data to come to that conclusion. You don’t know how much potential they now see with more flights to ATL and heading east including connecting to their massive international network at ATL.

    you and others want to live in a world which no longer exists…. AA is not the largest at LAX, the largest single US airport by O&D revenue, because they chose to outsource portions of their flying to other domestic competitors and because AA really does not get a premium in many of the competitive markets.

    And B6 sees the exact same thing which is why they are pulling back.

    DL is simply the largest airline at LAX, NYC and BOS – all of which were former AA strength markets. Just like AA and UA, DL gets good revenue from its hubs. DL just has done a better job in increasing its share in large highly competitive markets including those where AA was once stronger but DL is now.

  20. A220,
    you have proved over and over again that you are an old, unhappy person that can’t stand the reality and so keeps digging up the past.
    Deal with the facts.
    And it really doesn’t matter if Delta is the largest contractor for Hollywood or not because DL is by far larger in LAX and has started routes like AKL which AA walked away from and now wants to try to regain. There are multiple other markets including LAX-MSY where AA has waffled and DL has pounced.
    and then you can talk about LAX up and down the west coast. AA waffled. DL pounced. UA does not have the gates.
    The fact that you fail to see that while clinging to a world that no longer exists says volumes about you.

  21. So many lies and distractions from Tim, as usual, when he can’t contradict a point or prove his own.


    I’ll just say this since everything else was just an attempt to distract from the overall point that Delta is smaller in every measurement at LAX and SoCal vs AA except metal. Which, of course, matters, but not when you’re talking about an entrenched industry player, and the relevance to their own loyal members has only increased, not decreased in the last few years in Southern California and LAX through strategic moves by AA with direct Delta competitors.

    But… Delta itself was telling the courts and DOJ that they’d operate A LOT more than ATL from love Field if they got a gate or two. But then competing against AA and WN hit them and they realized they simply can’t compete on NYC-DAL or LAX-DAL… And frankly, that’s two markets where AA is very strong, albeit to DFW. Delta also retreated on LAX-LHR, another AA stronghold.

    Tim, dogmatic statements are a bit trite and silly, but since it seems to be all you know… if you want to talk about Delta’s ability to compete, they just ran away from AA on two major LAX markets.
    AA isn’t a perfect airline by far. Neither is delta but with limited resources AA found a way to pay down debt quickly while not losing any slots or gates in NYC or LAX and only increasing relevance in LAX. Your biases are widely known, but if Delta had done that you’d be screaming praise from the high heavens.

    And A220… I’d forgotten about Mr ATL100Million.. good memory. Funny how tim didn’t even bother responding since it was him. This from a guy that goes off on others for not using their real names despite Tim Dunn not being his real name or ATL100Million or Worldtraveller, or, frankly, JumboJet if you looked at the exact same style of writing from all three and that all three are banned (along with Tim’s IP address of phone, home, and just about everything else).

    Tim has long hid behind fake names and aliases, to say nothing of his random usernames he uses to reply to himself in comment sections.

  22. JetBlue needs to give up on RDU as well. They compete against DL on their three main nonstops (BOS, JFK, FLL) as well as AA on JFK and Spirit on FLL. None of those flights connect well to any point west of I-95. I can’t imagine they get too many corporate business travelers on those routes, so they may as well redeploy resources elsewhere.

  23. Used to fly jetBlue to San Juan, from either Denver (via BOS or JFK), or as a separate flight from TPA. Enjoyed it. High value back then. Haven’t flown with them much the last 10 years. Too bad. Used to be a great alternative.

  24. JETBLUE really showed Long Beach who’s the boss. Southwest wants to thank you for all the gates. I only hope the person who decided to leave Long Beach was fired from JETBLUE.

  25. you need help, Max.
    the only highlight in all of this is how off the rocker A220 is with you.

    You live in a fantasy land about AA.

    It is no surprise that you can’t stand the truth. It is pathological how deep you and A220 stoop in order to shut down the facts which you don’t want to hear.

    AA like B6 has wilted under the competitive pressure from Delta. That is a simple undeniable fact. At least it is undeniable for anyone that doesn’t have their identity and self-worth wrapped up in a company.

  26. The irony of @atl100million (which I found out accidentally btw)

    I’m actually far from an old and unhappy person actually, you don’t know anything about me. Not only is this projection, but it’s another Dunn insult from when he loses the argument. My exact point has been proven.

    Anyways American can send you up and down the west coast from LAX. Delta can’t.

    American can send you to/from/through Sydney, Tokyo, London, etc. Delta can’t.

    While Delta has ATL, AA blankets the south with DFW/CLT/MIA.

    American will have the most gates at LAX once construction is done.

    Delta can’t even profitability fly into Dallas Love Field.

    I’m more than happy to praise Delta and criticise American, but I expect Tim Dunn to insult me again because that’s what he does when he loses the argument.

  27. yes, you are a grumpy old man whether your birth certificate shows it or not.

    And you prove exactly what I have been dealing w/ for 20 years of participation in aviation social media: a small group of people that cannot live with the reality that their airline is not what they want it to be.

    If you are so convinced that AA still holds sway with Hollywood, then explain the routes they fly and why AA has still cut capacity in market after market from LAX.

    And, no, AA can’t carry you up and down dozens of cities on the west coast on its own metal anymore.
    And you do realize that DL has operated more seats from LAX to SYD than any other airline including QF for months?

    AA’s strategy is ALL about the south but that is ALL AA has. It is a shadow of its former self in NYC and Chicago, has shrunk PHL and BOS.
    CLT and DFW have far more RJs than ATL – all the flights in the world don’t matter when they are heavily on RJs. ATL is 85% mainline – and heavily large mainline at that.

    I’m sorry that you can’t accept the airline industry as it exists today and want to dream about getting rid of any opposing voices.

    You were wrong then and you are still wrong.

    And B6 is finally doing what AA ended up doing – cutting its losses and routes in markets where it can’t compete with better competitors.

    btw, I just looked at the amount of capacity from MIA to a number of cities in Latin America and was shocked at how much larger Latam is than AA in terms of seats offered to city after city.
    You do realize who owns a good chunk of Latam and has a JV with Latam?
    Perhaps even I underestimated the role DL now has in the S. Florida to Latin America market. but B6 now realizes why it can’t compete.

  28. I love how @atl100million (weird how you keep responding to that) just ignored how I debunked his “indexed” claim about LAX.

    Actually no Tim. I spoke to my girlfriend and she said I was a Gemini, and I trust her judgement far more than yours.

    Okay we get it Tim you were @worldtraveler than @atl100million on you don’t need to brag about it.

    Tim, just because they hold contracts within the entertainment industry doesn’t mean there’s infinite demand to fly to somewhere like Memphis. Another strawman.

    Actually AA can get me nearly everywhere. Go to their website and book a flight from SFO to PDX, it’s possible. I can AAdvantage miles too!

    You trying to turn me into a fAAnboy? I said several times I won’t defend them yet you keep attacking American here. Another strawman.

    Wait, are you telling me that a DL A359 has more capacity than a 77W AND an A380? Now I heard everything.

    keep attacking AA buddy. Keep going all day long.

  29. as I have repeatedly noted even as you double down, you are more interested in attacking the bearer of the news than to admit the reality which of which I speak.

    AA simply has shrunk in LAX, contracted out alot of flying to AS and simply does not have the reach compared to DL that it once had.
    If you were so certain that AA continued to carry more Hollywood traffic, you should be able to tell us the routes where that happens – but you can’t.
    Any semi-objective person can see that Hollywood traffic will mirror the rest of what an airline carries from LAX. AA has shrunk and handed traffic to DL. same as in NYC and BOS and same as what AA did for UA in CHI.

    and, yes, DL’s original build A350-900s have as many seats as AA’s 777Ws. And DL’s 9 ex-Latam A350s carry several dozen more seats than AA’s 777Ws. And as soon as the ex-Latam A350s are converted, DL will start receiving A350-1000s which will have dozens more seats than AA will have on their 777Ws.

    You highlight the real issue in your last paragraph. You can’t stand when anyone says anything negative about AA despite the fact that those things are true. Your identity is wrapped up in AA and you attack anyone that dares say anything negative about them.

    keep talking. the more you say, the more you reveal your true self – which I knew all along. You are not the only one.

  30. I’m sorry Mayor of Liliburn, Georgia,

    But saying a Delta A359 has more capacity than a Qantas A380 is by far your dumbest comment yet.

    I can’t take you seriously anymore man lmao this is too funny

  31. you also can’t read.

    Delta operates TWO A350-900 flights per day on LAX-SYD and the combined number of seats on those TWO flights is more than any other carrier including QF’s single A380 flight.

    Keep digging. You are destroying your own credibility with every post and only proving that you are a vindictive angry person that can’t stand for anyone to point out real facts that are very much true but you don’t like.

  32. AA is.horrible, just because you like them doesn’t mean we should. Also why should they build up BOS? Do you live there or something?

  33. United should buy JetBlue for the hub at FLL, JetBlue’s fleet, and the gates at JFK. If UA doesn’t try, DL definitely will.

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