JetBlue Will Cut Some Transatlantic Flights Next Month, May Lose Their Hawaiian Partnership

This week JetBlue announced a pulldown of its West Coast flying from Los Angeles as well as dropping four cities completely from its route network and other flight reductions as well. Internal word is that more cuts are coming in April though we don’t yet know what new flights they could announce, too.

A report from an executive meeting with JetBlue employees over all of the change that’s going on at the airline after the government blocked their partnership with American Airlines, stopped them from acquiring Spirit Airlines, and after corporate raider Carl Icahn took a stake in the carrier suggests that cuts may be coming to transatlantic flying and that there’s risk to their partnership with Hawaiian Airlines too.

  • Route planning reported that transatlantic isn’t doing well. They’re willing to lose money for three years and see how things develop, “Some of the TATL routes are getting to that maturity point, where they will have to start earning their right to stay in the network, or they will get treated like every other route or city and get cut.”

  • Expect some year-round transatlantic service to go seasonal (summers are tough to lose money across the Atlantic) and this is likely to be part of the next announcement of route cuts in April.

  • JetBlue’s pilot deal only lets them codeshare with American Airlines among U.S. carriers larger than them. (They were breaking the pilot contract when they did the American partnership, but settled with the pilot union over it.) They can’t codeshare with Alaska for this reason. If Alaska’s acquisition of Hawaiian closes their Hawaiian deal may not last, at least once Hawaiian flies on Alaska’s operating certificate.

A handful of readers have pushed back on my assertion that JetBlue’s transatlantic operation wasn’t performing well overall. JetBlue’s own executives say this. They no longer have the luxury of losing money while investing in potential future growth, and we can likely expect some changes to transatlantic flying as well as other route cuts and adjustments next month as they try to stem loss-making.

Higher fees for passengers and cuts to unprofitable routes comprise the core of their strategy now that the government has blocked their partnership with American Airlines and their acquisition of Spirit.

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. It was a given that the reality of where B6 was losing money would become apparent and it is now obvious that the statements about the success of B6 TATL came from low level employees that didn’t see the fares or costs.

    The larger implication is that the narrowbody transatlantic model has yet to prove itself financially viable.
    Yes, larger carriers have sat on B6 and that was a given in any market, but the notion that the economics of augmented crew narrowbody transatlantic operations would work has another casualty.
    And that has significant implications for AA and UA’s belief that they can use A321XLRs in markets where widebody aircraft are much more efficient.

  2. United will use their A321XLRs to replace their 757s.

    But sure these routes will become sudden failures.

  3. I thought the Judge who ruled against the Spirit merger was open to JetBlue reestablishing their alliance with AA. Is this incorrect?

  4. Jet Blue has been way over their head in expansion for some time. They were totally out of their league internationally and should have “stayed at home.”

  5. the economics of augmented (3 pilot) operations don’t work on an aircraft the size of a 757-200 or A321 at US carrier salaries.
    There isn’t a single route that AA or UA or any other TATL carrier can fly that can’t be undercut via .connections at one end of the route or another which means there can be no revenue premium and there are no routes that will only support a narrowbody but not a widebody.

  6. Odd that some readers were “pushing back” on the idea that JetBlue’s transatlantic operation wasn’t going well. Must be diehard loyalists who can’t stomach the truth. As a widebody Captain, I can attest that I’ve heard multiple conversations on the air-to-air common frequency over the North Atlantic Tracks in which crews from established international airlines have inquired of JetBlue crews how their loads were faring to LHR, AMS, CDG, etc. The answer was never enthusiastically positive. I’ve often wondered myself as I pass them on the way to Europe how they can possibly make any money over the Atlantic. I’ve got 282 passengers and 10-15 tons of cargo on my jet, while they are hauling 70 passengers and virtually no high-revenue cargo to speak of. And it won’t get any better, in that JetBlue lacks not only the lift but the feed generated by global partnerships and a gargantuan domestic network. Let’s face it, transatlantic was a vanity project for them. Makes about as much sense as Air Florida’s European foray from a generation ago. And will last about as long.

  7. Looks like I need to use those “Move to Mint” certificates JetBlue gave me as part of the Delta status match pretty before the summer is over!

    I will say JetBlue doesn’t seem to get any kind of revenue premium on its Europe flying – not surprising, but not sure what the overall strategy was. The product is good – except the fact they have no lounges, which is what I have kept going back to repeatedly in terms of JetBlue’s halfway there strategy. If I am paying for international business class, I generally expect to have some kind of lounge access, and JetBlue simply doesn’t offer it.

  8. B6 installed too many business class seats (24) on the A321 flights to Europe; should use five or six rows max, install traditional domestic F seats four across the remaining/existing business class rows and JetBlue might make a T/A profit beyond the summer months.

    Unless everyone up front is paying full fare, no way to make a profit on flying 114 coach seats across the pond, even if the product is superior.

  9. Garys mission is to give B6 as much bad press as possible. For a great little airline that’s trying … he sure knows how to make them look awful.

    All these cuts have movement elsewhere. Only actual loss of flying is due to having 16 less aircraft until the NEOs are back. All airlines go through growing pains. JetBlue has never merged with anyone. They have been given a massive challenge to make it on their own while every other major airline is a conglomerate of many. Give credit where credit it’s due if you’re going to keep writing articles which make all of the cuts and changes appear worse than they are.

    Real facts :
    LAX base is not closing. Will still be a focus city but the loss of these routes does stink.
    FLL departures will be equal to this year. They are adding frequencies on routes with high demand.
    Europe – speculation only. They said now that they are established and have the ability to start making changes where necessary.

    The way Gary writes is CNN doom and gloom. He picks on B6 and spreads the news in a much more dramatic manner than reality.

    Gary is the definition of a no-class reporter who would do all readers a favor by spending more time enjoying his miles and regain AA concierge key. Oh wait… AA gave him the status and all of the sudden Gary stopped writing negative AA articles.

  10. So, for those of us with JetBlue tkts Boston to Paris in September …
    How much notice do they usually give when a route is being canceled?
    What’s a workable Plan B – duplicate tkts on alternate airlines?
    We’re in Mint and that’s a lotta credit if all we use it for is MA FL.

  11. It seems a little contrary that JetBlue is adding new flights to Europe while hinting at cutting back there. It’s not like they have that many flights to cut back to begin with.

  12. I still think some form of a JetBlue / American alliance makes a lot of sense and I hope they re-examine a way to make it work.

  13. For those who want the actual facts in regards to what the head of route planning actually said, here you go….

    The trend is good in regards to TransAtlantic….capacity is up 50-60% YOY, RASM up 10-20% YOY. Never said TATL isn’t doing well.

    Now that TATL flying is at critical mass, you probably will see slower growth the next year or two.

    You’ll see some of the non-core markets start (not London, Paris, Amsterdam) to become seasonal.

    BOS-DUB is doing really well. Paris has launched really well, especially with the Olympics approaching.

  14. Pinch me. Mr Dunnn never mentioned his self discribed pRemium airline once! Not just in one post BUT TWO!
    How can VFTW survive?

  15. Wow Gary your write up has little bearing on what was actually said on the network planning pocket session SMH

  16. I was on the call.

    Heard encouraging things about TATL flying, not the doom and gloom that Gary is reporting. While they didn’t say it was profitable they did say it was scaling how they expected it to. I’m sure you’ll see some seasonality with the offerings in the Winter. They clearly don’t need to be running BOS-LHR and BOS-LGW daily in the Winter. Just not enough premium demand.

    @Bill – BOS-CDG isn’t going anywhere. They specifically said the summer demand is very impressive and that CDG was the best performing of the Europe flying. They are sticking with it.

    I urge all readers to understand you are reading something on the internet and you can’t believe everything you read.

  17. James – I don’t see DUB performing well when B6 has $399 RT fares in the market.
    As others have said – the TATL 321s are too premium heavy to sustain a profit.

  18. Fllfyer….how would you know without seeing the actual numbers? I’ll take your word for it, not Dave then.

  19. @miaziggy
    In fairness, delta was implied in Tim’s xlr rant since delta was late to the xlr game, didn’t get a good deal on those planes, and therefore didn’t buy them since aa and ua bought at a discount by being early adopters or swapping other aircraft deals vs what delta would’ve bought. But never fear. Those ancient delta 763s aren’t going anywhere 😉

    Ergo: tim is forced to defend the lack of xlr at delta as a reason to critique two delta rivals and set himself up as smarter than people that do network planning for a living…

    All this from a fired ex-delta employee banned on multiple websites, Mr Dunn, Mr worldtraveler, Mr Atl100Million, Mr Jumbojet, or whatever fake name he’s using today…
    Tim, it’s so nice to see you, once again, acknowledging your multiple personalities. You’ve had such fun rants lying to me about them in the past.

    All a tad ironic since no xlr is flying today but Tim is content to consider the B6 a321LR and Neo the same as the XLR the same thing since… hey, why let facts matter? And hey, why not use B6’s known revenue disadvantage interfere on a rant about AA and UA when talking about a plane that doesn’t even fly yet…
    It fits his delta narrative. If delta buys the xlr, he’ll reverse course and be the biggest fan of it

  20. What a joke, Mr Leff, the head of planning did it say that and only said that smaller transatlantic routes will be more seasonal, Amsterdam Paris london will not. Other XLR routes in the future like Frankfurt will stick year round. Look at the comment of the previous poster. They said it’s doing very well. Your reporting is continuous to be a laughing stock. Your just a AA pawn.

  21. JetBlue should shut down.
    They offer nothing to the industry but more problems and traffic ATC has to deal with.
    Give AA the JFk slots so they can compete in the NYC area and be done with it.

  22. Dartagnan77….Its disappointing that this site will just find any comment made on and decide to just run with it. Maybe I’ll create a fake username on there and try and bait Gary to write an article on something I totally made up.

  23. Tim
    You could also just admit you’re a big liar that has multiple personalities with no credibility and that multiple independent panels have banned you for your nonsense… over and over despite your attempts to reregister under new fake names
    For a guy that yells at others for a Nom de Plume username btw…

    Remember when you tried to suggest tim Dunn was your real name and used your joke of a stock blog as a reference when they publicly say they don’t require writers to use their own name? And actually say they are fine if writers don’t use their real name. God, I hope that Olin Mills photo isn’t you…

    It’s amusing how little research you do into your own made up lies.

    Prozac is the wrong med… I think Mary Jane may help me laugh more with you and understand you…

  24. It’s all in your timing!!
    All the issues date back to the failed Virgin America acquisition.
    Since then, all down hill.
    Reminds me of the Eastern Airlines of the 1980’s….slow death.

  25. max,
    you still can’t offer anything substantive to the discussion because, you just like other people, are fixated on me – and you get the facts wrong because you convince yourself of what you believe and then fabricate your own narrative.

    The issue is B6. Do you think in the tiniest corner of your little mind that you could focus on it?

    You do whatever drugs you need to do. The beauty of the internet is that you can do whatever you want while on it and physically harm no one. Beware, though. You can and do harm your own reputation while posting under the influence which you have clearly let us know you do.

    Exit row is right in his/her last post. B6 has had visions of grandeur that exceeded its ability to execute and it has moved from one failed strategy to another all while abandoning its core operation.

  26. @FIfi

    The Dub and EDI flight are NOT operating on the premium heavy airframes AND they are only seasonal flights.

  27. @A220HubandSpoke
    Indeed. I expect the A321XLR to be a game-changer across the Atlantic, especially during the non-peak season. The only real question is whether the decrease in cargo revenue would matter. I doubt it will.

  28. Thanks! @LurkerB6, just what I was hoping to hear.
    And, yes, we understand internet can have misinformation. Understatement. This instance has significant implications for us so I nquired just in case.
    Thanks again.
    ps: to those not so fond of JetBlue . . . it’s perfect for us. We plan to make good use of it as long as it’s around.

  29. @Christoph ….. It’s not diehard loyalists pushing back that the operation isn’t doing well. It’s because 2-3 times a week Gary over here has a hard on for smearing B6 when 90% of the time he is no where near close to what is actually happening. Can you prove those were jetBlue crews speaking on the air to air? Anyone could key up and act like they are whoever they want to be. 282 passengers going over consistently or just on that one flight where every carrier crossing decided to query jetBlue at the same time on how the loads were? Funny how I’ve heard most legacy carriers are struggling to fill their boats going over. When I check the loads for non rev that number doesn’t seem so accurate… across all the carriers. So many legacy pilots have a hard on for running narrow body over the pond it’s mind blowing. I agree in regards to cargo that’s a huge downfall but jetBlues transatlantic is no where doing as bad as Gary here is implying. Throwing around 3 years willing to lose money. Would love a source to back that up Gary besides the “executives” said it. Gary here probably didn’t get some free upgrade or status on jetBlue like he did with AA (amazing picture Gary by the way of the cute box AA sent you. I bet you’re still drooling over it as it sits on your mantle. Just be sure to dust it off every once in a while. If you dust it off as often as you write smear pieces on jetBlue I’m sure it’ll last a lifetime) and now every week its a smear piece. I’m starting to look forward to them because of how humorous and off base he is.

  30. AA using A321-XLR’s in the future is intended for secondary European markets and for enabling the carrier to operate certain European routes year round. Think PHL-VCE operating in the summer months(high season) on a wide body and then switching to an XLR in the winter months when the yield isn’t as high but the narrow body allows the route to continue during that time. I suspect B6’s problems with TA flying has more to do with the fact that they are not a hub and spoke carrier, but a point to point one. Perhaps they are having trouble feeding their own TA flights??

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