JetBlue consolidating flights in New York, Los Angeles and 3 more big cities
JetBlue Airways will consolidate flights to just one or two airports in five of the nation's largest metro areas, including New York, Los Angeles and Washington. The changes are part of the company's latest response to the impact of the novel coronavirus pandemic.
The New York-based carrier will suspend flights to select airports in the Boston, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco and Washington, areas that are served by several commercial airports from April 15 to June 10, JetBlue said Wednesday. The consolidation comes as the airline plans to reduce capacity by 80% in April, 10 percentage points more than previously disclosed.
JetBlue will consolidate service in the following areas with planned departure levels in April:
- Boston: 28 departures from Boston Logan (BOS), suspending Providence (PVD).
- Los Angeles: five departures from Long Beach (LGB) and Los Angeles (LAX), suspending Burbank (BUR) and Ontario (ONT).
- New York: 30 departures from Newark Liberty (EWR) and New York John F. Kennedy (JFK), suspending Newburgh (SWF), New York LaGuardia (LGA) and White Plains (HPN).
- San Francisco: two departures from San Francisco (SFO), suspending San Jose (SJC).
- Washington: five departures from Washington Reagan National (DCA), suspending Baltimore/Washington (BWI).
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JetBlue's plans to consolidate service in the five regions was first reported by PaxEx.Aero.
The suspensions are designed to meet requirements for the funds from federal coronavirus relief bill — formally the CARES Act funds — that JetBlue applied for on April 3. The guidelines require airlines to continue service to all destinations in their network deemed reasonable by the Department of Transportation. However, they allow carriers to consolidate flights to one airport in designated metro areas with several airports.
Airlines are getting creative in how they continue flights to all of their destinations. Alaska Airlines is consolidating service to 12 cities by ending nonstop flights between Seattle (SEA) and six cities and "tagging" them on to existing service to six other cities. American Airlines is suspending many routes to its nine domestic hubs and consolidating service at its two largest bases in Charlotte (CLT) and Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW).
However, more airlines are expected to follow JetBlue's lead in consolidating flights to just one or two airports in regions served by several gateways as the number of travelers flying in the U.S. continue to drop on a daily basis.
Related: JetBlue backtracks on its strict schedule change policy
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screened just 97,130 passengers at airports across the U.S. on April 7. That is less than 5% of the number of travelers screened a year ago, and possibly the first time in the agency's history the number has fallen below 100,000.
"[This] is the biggest crisis we have ever had in front of us," International Air Transport Association (IATA) director general Alexandre de Juniac said of the impact of the crisis on the world's airlines on April 7.
The organization has warned that, without government support, half of the world's airlines could collapse or merge with others. In the U.S., regionals Compass Airlines and Trans States Airlines will or have shut their doors, and RavnAir in Alaska has shut down with hopes of resuming flights under bankruptcy protection.
It is an open question whether JetBlue, or any other carrier that consolidates flights to one or two airports in large U.S. cities, will ever return to their previous service levels. Airlines will be smaller when they rebuild post-COVID-19 with the number of flights on busy routes likely the first casualty, but industry experts anticipate each carrier to carefully evaluate what routes and destinations to resume.
Related: How will airlines rebuild their route maps after the coronavirus?