JetBlue announces 30 new routes, adds Mint service from Newark
JetBlue Airways is moving to fly where flyers want to go, adding 30 new routes even as demand for air travel remains well below 2019 levels amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The new routes at the New York-based carrier will come from its focus cities and Florida between July and October, JetBlue said Thursday. The airline hopes the routes will help it generate revenue, reactivate aircraft and avoid staff furloughs this fall.
The biggest winner appears to be Newark Liberty (EWR) where JetBlue will add nine new routes, as well as add its premium Mint service, by October. The addition of Mint, which includes lie-flat seats, thrusts JetBlue into direct competition with United Airlines on two of the latter's higher-profile domestic routes -- between Newark and both Los Angeles (LAX) and San Francisco (SFO) -- out of one of its busiest hubs. United also flies a premium domestic service on the routes.
Elsewhere, JetBlue's announcement includes also significant additions at New York John F. Kennedy (JFK) and Philadelphia (PHL) airports.
Sign up for the free daily TPG newsletter for more airline news!
"Coronavirus has transformed airline route maps, and as we begin to see small signs of recovery, we continue to be flexible with our network plans to respond to demand trends and generate cash in support of our business,” Scott Laurence, head of revenue and planning at JetBlue, said in a statement.
With the route additions plus previously planned service resumptions, JetBlue will fly about half its normal summer schedule this year.
Multiple airlines have reported a return of leisure travelers this summer. While numbers remain well below what they were last year, people tired of sheltering-in-place due to COVID-19 are flying to places with space, like beaches in Florida, national parks and the Rocky Mountains.
However, analysts have warned that summer vacationing travelers may not translate into a continued uptick travel demand once the begins. Typically, leisure travel declines and business travel picks up after Labor Day. This year, however, it is unclear when -- or if -- corporate flyers will return.
Related: Airlines may face a tough fall after that summer uptick
JetBlue is not alone in adding new routes to tap into this returning demand. Alaska Airlines is adding new service to Fresno (FAT) -- the closest airport to Yosemite National Park -- Frontier Airlines has added new routes to Florida, and Southwest Airlines will add 11 routes to its map this winter.
In addition to the routes, JetBlue will resume service to nine airports where it previously suspended service by early July. These include Aguadilla (BQN) and Ponce (PSE) in Puerto Rico, Chicago O’Hare (ORD), Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW), Houston Bush Intercontinental (IAH), Martha’s Vineyard (MVY), Minneapolis/St. Paul (SMP), Nantucket (ACK), Philadelphia (PHL), Portland, Oregon (PDX) and Providence (PVD).
Another thing to note in JetBlue's route announcement: all of the new routes will be flown with either Airbus A320 or A321 jets. Cowen analysts expect the airline will accelerate the retirement of its 60 Embraer E190s as a result of the pandemic.
Related: JetBlue and Spirit Airlines can suspend flights to 16 hub airports
Below is a list of JetBlue's 30 new routes.
Beginning July 23:
- Newark - Los Angeles (LAX) and San Francisco (SFO) on Mint; Charleston, South Carolina (CHS) and Jacksonville (JAX)
- New York JFK - Dallas/Fort Worth and Detroit (DTW)
Beginning Aug. 6:
- Newark - Austin (AUS), Las Vegas (LAS), Phoenix (PHX), San Diego (SAN) and Sarasota-Bradenton (SRQ)
- New York JFK - Minneapolis/St. Paul
- New York LaGuardia (LGA) - Fort Myers (RSW) and Tampa (TPA)
- Philadelphia - Fort Myers (RSW), Orlando (MCO), San Juan (SJU), Tampa and West Palm Beach (PBI)
Beginning Oct. 1:
- Fort Lauderdale (FLL) - Pittsburgh (PIT), Portland, Oregon, and Seattle-Tacoma (SEA)
- Fort Myers - Cleveland (CLE) and Providence
- New York JFK - St. Thomas (STT)
- Orlando - San Francisco
- Tampa - Providence and Washington National (DCA)
- West Palm Beach - Chicago O'Hare and Pittsburgh
Related: These are the 1,000 planes that US carriers could send to the boneyard