JetBlue to open LAX base, end flights to Long Beach in West Coast realignment

Jul 9, 2020

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

JetBlue Airways is giving up on its long-standing West Coast base in Long Beach with plans to drop the airport from its map and open a new base in nearby Los Angeles this fall.

The New York-based carrier will offer up to 32 daily flights from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) with new service to seven western markets beginning Oct. 7, JetBlue said on Thursday. The new routes include flights to Austin (AUS), Las Vegas (LAS) and San Francisco (SFO).

The LAX additions come a day after JetBlue ends all service in Long Beach on Oct. 6. It has served the airport since August 2001 and maintained a base there since 2002.

Sign up for the free daily TPG newsletter for more airline news!

(Image courtesy of JetBlue Airways)

 

“As we step into October… we’ve got to be really flexible as no one knows what this pandemic is going to bring,” JetBlue president Joanna Geraghty told TPG’s Brian Kelly on July 2. While she did not mention it directly, the airline has indicated that will shrink as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

The exit from Long Beach and build up at LAX seems an example of this, if one that many expected. In fact, if was anticipated even prior to the crisis with Cranky Flier writer Brett Snyder asking “Why bother keeping it as anything more than a spoke?” following the cuts JetBlue announced in January.

Since January, the coronavirus crisis has hit the industry hard with JetBlue slashing schedules by as much as 88% in May, according to Cirium schedules. While some flights have come back, the carrier still only to plans to fly about half of what it flew last year in July. Long Beach operations are down 85% year-over-year this month.

Related: JetBlue’s Long Beach network still a question after California route cull

“The transition to LAX, serving as the anchor of our focus city strategy on the West Coast, sets JetBlue up for success in Southern California,” JetBlue head of revenue and planning Scott Laurence said. “We continue to seize on opportunities to emerge from this pandemic a stronger competitive force in the industry.”

He called LAX one of the carrier’s “most successful” markets since it began flights to the airport in 2009. In addition to the new base, JetBlue is adding flights with its Mint premium product between the airport and Newark Liberty (EWR) on July 23.

JetBlue hopes to grow its new LAX base to as many as 70 daily departures by 2025. It will relocate its Long Beach crew and maintenance bases to the airport as part of the move.

The airline does not indicate how it plans to add terminal space at LAX — a notoriously gate-tight airport prior to the pandemic — for its expanded operations. JetBlue operates from Terminal 5 today.

Related: How will airlines rebuild their route maps after the coronavirus?

“This is stupid,” Snyder told TPG on Thursday. “It’s smart that they’re finally leaving Long Beach. However, instead they’ve decided to go into one of the most competitive airports in the world on routes where they’ll really add little value and I don’t see how this works.”

For example, JetBlue will join seven other carriers — including West Coast leaders Alaska Airlines, Southwest Airlines and United Airlines — on the LAX-Las Vegas route based on March schedules, Cirium shows.

The LAX base appears the latest in JetBlue’s ambition to establish itself as a major player on the West Coast. Its last major attempt was a failed bidding war for Virgin America that it lost to Alaska in 2016.

In addition to LAX, JetBlue plans to continue serving Burbank (BUR) and Ontario (ONT) airports in the Los Angeles area.

Related: JetBlue announces 30 new routes, adds Mint service from Newark

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Airport Architecture (@airportarchitecture) on

At this time, Long Beach continues to be served by American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Hawaiian Airlines and Southwest. However, Delta and Hawaiian have both suspended flights through August.

Below are JetBlue’s planned routes from LAX from Oct. 7.

Los Angeles

  • Austin
  • Boston Logan (BOS)
  • Bozeman (BZN)
  • Buffalo (BUF)
  • Fort Lauderdale (FLL)
  • Las Vegas
  • New York John F. Kennedy (JFK)
  • Newark Liberty (begins July 23)
  • Orlando (MCO)
  • Reno (RNO)
  • Salt Lake City (SLC)
  • San Francisco
  • Seattle-Tacoma (SEA)

Featured image by Shutterstock.com.

The All-New United Quest℠ Card

WELCOME OFFER: Up to 100,000 bonus miles

TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,040

CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 3X miles on United® purchases

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 80K bonus miles after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. Plus, an additional 20K bonus miles after you spend $10,000 in the first 6 months
  • $250 Annual Fee
  • Earn 3X miles on United® purchases, 2X miles at restaurants, on select streaming services & all other travel, 1X on all other purchases
  • Earn 3X miles on United Airlines purchases
  • Earn 2X miles at restaurants and on select streaming services
  • Earn 2X miles on all other travel
  • Earn 1X mile on all other purchases
  • Each year, receive a $125 credit on United® purchases and two 5k-mile anniversary award flight credits. Terms apply.
Regular APR
16.49% to 23.49% Variable
Annual Fee
$250
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit
Excellent, Good

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.