JetBlue cuts 20 routes, trims new Canada service, to boost summer reliability

May 17, 2022

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While JetBlue Airways has been making news for its proposed acquisition of Spirit Airlines, the New York-based carrier is still trying to button up its own operation.

In recent weeks, JetBlue has suffered from multiple operational meltdowns that delayed and canceled thousands of flights and caused downstream impacts for days, inconveniencing thousands of passengers.

While the previous meltdowns may have interfered with spring break, Easter or Passover plans, the airline is trying really hard to avoid disrupting what’s poised to be one of the busiest summer travel seasons on record.

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To that end, the airline is scrapping 20 routes for portions of the summer as it looks to create additional slack in its schedule and avoid (as much as possible) a repeat of the recent operational challenges.

JetBlue’s summer cuts (Map courtesy of Cirium)

The hardest hit is the airline’s Fort Lauderdale focus city, which is losing eight routes for portions of the summer. In terms of destinations, Cancun will see reduced service from Raleigh-Durham and Tampa.

The schedule changes, which are copied below, were first seen in Cirium timetables and later confirmed by the airline. In a statement to TPG, the airline shared that:

These changes will support operational reliability and improve schedules elsewhere in our network, helping to ensure we get our customers where they need to go during this busy season. The adjustments also scale back flying that does not make as much sense in the current environment of significantly higher fuel prices.

Even with these adjustments, we’re still planning for a very busy summer, including growth towards nearly 300 daily departures in New York – more than ever in our history – and we remain on track to grow flying faster than the big four carriers this summer.

Perhaps the most noteworthy cut is the airline’s service from Boston to Vancouver. First announced in April 2021, JetBlue at the time made splashy headlines for its soon-to-launch Canada service. The airline claimed that flying to Canada was a “top request from flyers” and said that it would commence year-round service from New York-JFK and seasonal service from Boston.

The JFK flights are still on track to launch June 9, but JetBlue is now scrapping plans to fly to Vancouver from Boston. It will instead try launching summer seasonal flights from Boston at a later time, but there’s no clear timeline.

As part of the cuts, JetBlue is also permanently exiting Montrose/Telluride, Colorado (MTJ).

JetBlue’s operational issues have largely impacted flights to and from Florida and the Northeast. While many of the disruptions began with winter weather or thunderstorms, the airline’s staffing constraints and overscheduled network caused a domino effect that led the airline to cancel nearly 10% of its entire April schedule.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

During April, the airline’s reliability hit bottom, causing some outlets, including the Boston Globe, to question what exactly is happening to JetBlue. The airline even ranked dead last on the Wall Street Journal’s annual airline rankings, with JetBlue’s operational reliability cited as a key factor for its poor performance.

The problems in April became severe enough that the Air Line Pilots Association, the union which represents JetBlue pilots, took the unusual step of issuing a statement blaming a specific mid-level executive at the airline, head of airports and system operations Alex Battaglia.

“Battaglia was moved to his current position of head of Airports and System Operations in August 2021,” the union said in an April press release. “However, since then, JetBlue’s reputation among its customers has plummeted.”

On April 26, JetBlue issued a press release detailing the changes that it would make to “restore crewmember and customer confidence for the upcoming summer travel season.”

Stranded passengers during JetBlue’s January 2022 meltdown (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

The proposed changes include accelerating staffing and training to support the schedule, addressing customer call volume and hold times and reducing disruptions due to maintenance.

Trimming the number of flights it operates is also a key element of the airline’s plans. The airline first took a stab at reducing summer flights back in April, and it’s now doing the same in mid-May. (Eight of the route cuts represent extended suspensions, as noted below.)

Whether the airline can reliably operate its schedule this summer is yet to be seen, but at least the airline seems to trying to give itself some slack.

JetBlue’s 20 route cuts for the summer

Origin Destination Effective dates
Boston (BOS) Rochester (ROC) July 1 – Sept. 6
Boston (BOS) San Jose (SJC) July 1 – Sept. 6 (suspension extended)
Boston (BOS) Vancouver (YVR) Will not launch
Fort Lauderdale (FLL) Aguadilla (BQN) July 7 – Sept. 8 (suspension extended)
Fort Lauderdale (FLL) Atlanta (ATL) July 1 – Sept. 6 (suspension extended)
Fort Lauderdale (FLL) Austin (AUS) July 1 – Sept. 6
Fort Lauderdale (FLL) Buffalo (BUF) July 1 – Sept. 6 (suspension extended)
Fort Lauderdale (FLL) Nashville (BNA) July 1 – Sept. 6
Fort Lauderdale (FLL) New Orleans (MSY) Aug. 1 – Sept. 6
Fort Lauderdale (FLL) Philadelphia (PHL) July 1 – Sept. 6
Fort Lauderdale (FLL) Phoenix (PHX) Aug. 1 – Sept. 7
Hartford (BDL) San Juan (SJU) July 1 – Sept. 6
Hartford (BDL) Tampa (TPA) July 1 – Sept. 6
Hartford (BDL) West Palm Beach (PBI) July 1 – Sept. 6 (suspension extended)
Los Angeles (LAX) Richmond (RIC) Aug. 1 – Sept. 6 (suspension extended)
Los Angeles (LAX) Seattle (SEA) July 1 – Sept. 6 (suspension extended)
Orlando (MCO) Nassau (NAS) Aug. 1 – Sept. 6
Orlando (MCO) Syracuse (SYR) July 1 – Sept. 6 (suspension extended)
Raleigh-Durham (RDU) Cancun (CUN) Aug. 10 – Sept. 6
Tampa (TPA) Cancun (CUN) July 11 – Sept. 6

Featured photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy.

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