JetBlue drops Oakland, shrinks Long Beach amid broader route shakeup
JetBlue Airways is making significant cuts in Long Beach and saying goodbye to one of its first West Coast destinations this spring as it continues to restructure its map around its bases on the East Coast.
The New York-based carrier will end service to Oakland (OAK) — an airport it has served since 2001 — and drop two Caribbean routes from both Fort Lauderdale (FLL) and Orlando (MCO). The airline also will reduce its Long Beach (LGB) schedule by a third and cut its daily flight between New York John F. Kennedy (JFK) and Havana (HAV) to Saturdays only beginning in April, JetBlue said Thursday.
At the same time, JetBlue will expand its Boston (BOS) and New York JFK bases. The airline will add new service between Boston and Bozeman, Montana (BZN), and between JFK and Bozeman, Guatemala City (GUA), and Nashville (BNA) in April and June.
“We continue to identify opportunities to strengthen our focus cities and allocate flying so we can offer better schedules and high-demand destinations for our customers," Scott Laurence, head of revenue and planning at JetBlue, said in a statement.
Though it is dropping Oakland, JetBlue will continue to serve the Bay Area with four routes from San Francisco (SFO) and two from San Jose (SJC).
The Long Beach changes were first reported by PaxEx.aero.
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West Coast struggles
The Long Beach and Oakland cuts come as JetBlue continues to struggle on the West Coast. Since at least 2018, the airline has said Long Beach has underperformed financially compared to its other bases. JetBlue slashed flights at the Southern California airport by about a third to up to 23 departures that year.
With the latest cuts, JetBlue will end flights between Long Beach and the California cities of Oakland, Sacramento (SMF) and San Jose. It also will reduce frequency between Long Beach and Las Vegas (LAS). The airline will operate 15 departures from Long Beach after the changes occur on April 28.
"This looks like a half-measure by JetBlue," Brett Snyder, a former airline employee who runs the Cranky Concierge travel service and writes the Cranky Flier blog, told TPG. "It angers employees and makes the airline even less relevant than it already was in Long Beach. Why bother keeping it as anything more than a spoke?"
JetBlue will continue to serve 10 cities from Long Beach, including Austin (AUS), New York JFK, San Francisco and Seattle (SEA), according to Cirium schedule data.
Southwest Airlines will continue to serve Long Beach travelers headed to Oakland, Sacramento and San Jose.
While shrinking in Long Beach, JetBlue has expanded the offering of its Mint premium product on transcontinental routes to the West Coast since 2018. The airline's capacity between the coasts was up nearly 7% year-over-year in 2019, Cirium shows. JetBlue offers Mint service from Los Angeles, but not Long Beach.
Long Beach was JetBlue's second base after JFK. Service began with flights to New York and Washington Dulles (IAD) in 2001, and expanded to short-haul destinations — including Oakland — a year later.
East Coast strength
Boston and New York JFK continue to be JetBlue's focus. Both cities have seen a number of recent additions, including an expanded shuttle-like operation between Boston and both New York LaGuardia (LGA) and Washington Reagan National (DCA), and routes from JFK to Ecuador and Guyana in South America.
"Both markets are exceeding our expectations," JetBlue president Joanna Geraghty said about Boston and New York in October. "Our relevance in Boston and other focused cities continue to drive up customer loyalty."
Earlier in 2019, executives said the carrier would proactively move to address "soft spots" in its network, including in Long Beach.
Related to its network optimization moves, JetBlue was forced to scale back 2019 growth plans due to delivery delays of new Airbus A321neo jets. The airline began the year expecting 13 aircraft, but was forced to reduce that to six due to hold ups at the European planemaker.
JetBlue has not released its 2020 growth target, but Cowen analysts forecast 1.5-2% year-over-year capacity growth.
Details on all of JetBlue's route changes are listed below:
Bozeman: seasonal; two weekly flights beginning June 13
New York JFK
Bozeman: seasonal; up to daily beginning June 11
Guatemala City: year round; daily beginning June 1
Nashville: year round; twice daily beginning April 29
Oakland: seasonal; daily, ends April 28
Barbados (BGI): daily, ends April 27
Santiago, Dominican Republic (STI): up to daily, ends April 28
Las Vegas: reduced to two daily flights from three-times daily on April 28
Oakland: twice daily, ends April 28
Sacramento: twice daily, ends April 28
San Jose: twice daily, ends April 28
New York JFK
Havana: daily service ends April 28, Saturday-only flights begin May 2
Oakland: up to daily, ends April 28
Havana: daily, ends April 28
Port-au-Prince, Haiti (PAP): daily, ends April 28