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JetBlue cuts 14 routes, drops a city in big network shake-up

JetBlue Airways is making several cuts to its network, nearly all of which are focused on the Northeast.

The carrier is dropping 14 routes and pulling out of one city, as first seen in Cirium schedules and later confirmed by a carrier spokesperson.

The cuts are extensive and all but one touch either New York or Boston. You’ll find the full list of cuts below, but highlights include pulling out of Burlington, Vermont, and dropping service between New York and Washington, D.C.

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These routes will be phased out over the coming weeks, with the first tranche ending right after the holidays during the first week of January, followed by a second tranche at the end of March.

  • Boston Logan International Airport (BOS)-Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR)
  • Boston Logan International Airport (BOS)-Frederick Douglass Greater Rochester International Airport (ROC)
  • Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR)-Miami International Airport (MIA)
  • John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK)-Burlington International Airport (BTV)
  • John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK)-Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA)
  • Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)-Charleston International Airport (CHS)
  • LaGuardia Airport (LGA)-L.F. Wade International Airport (BDA)
  • LaGuardia Airport (LGA)-Nashville International Airport (BNA)
  • LaGuardia Airport (LGA)-Charleston International Airport (CHS)
  • LaGuardia Airport (LGA)-Denver International Airport (DEN)
  • LaGuardia Airport (LGA)-Cape Cod Gateway Airport (HYA)
  • LaGuardia Airport (LGA)-Jacksonville International Airport (JAX)
  • LaGuardia Airport (LGA)-Portland International Jetport (PWM)
  • LaGuardia Airport (LGA)-Sarasota Bradenton International Airport (SRQ)

Perhaps the most notable drop is Burlington, which has been served pretty consistently by JetBlue for over two decades. This exit will give Delta Air Lines a monopoly on the routes from New York to Burlington, while United Airlines will continue to serve the city from its hub at Newark.

Another interesting cut is service from New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) to Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA), which will end in early January.

This route just commenced on Sept. 16, and it’ll now be cut just a few months later on Jan. 3, 2024. It’s not often that an airline launches a new route and then pulls out of the market after less than a full season.

JetBlue explains that it’s making these drastic cuts for two reasons.

The first is the disbanding of the Northeast Alliance with American Airlines that launched in early 2021.

The pact was designed as a way for American and JetBlue to boost their relevance in New York and Boston — two key Northeast cities that are difficult for either airline to provide service to on its own against entrenched rivals, the two carriers claimed.

So, instead of competing with each other, American and JetBlue used the Northeast Alliance to coordinate schedules in the Northeast, launch a slew of new domestic and international routes, offer codesharing and loyalty perks, and more.

In order to better align their schedules, the carriers traded slots — basically takeoff and landing permissions — at LaGuardia to facilitate this network growth.

But, now that the tie-up has since been disbanded following a successful Department of Justice antitrust lawsuit, JetBlue needs to give slots back to American. While American is appealing the judge’s ruling, both carriers have already mostly undone the alliance.

For JetBlue, this means it needs to either reduce frequencies or drop existing routes entirely — and the carrier is mostly going with the latter strategy.

JetBlue Airbus A320

In addition to these slot swaps at LaGuardia, JetBlue says it’s also making cuts “due to the government’s ongoing ATC staffing challenges,” a carrier spokesperson told TPG.

JetBlue is referring to the temporary slot waiver for flights at New York’s two busiest airports that was recently extended by the Federal Aviation Administration.

Slots are typically use-it-or-lose-it, meaning that if JetBlue weren’t able to fill its entire slot schedule, then it would risk losing a valuable slot to one of its competitors.

But because of this temporary slot waiver (put in place primarily due to the air traffic controller shortages in the Northeast), airlines can drop about 10% of their flights at LaGuardia and JFK, allowing JetBlue to adjust its New York schedule without worrying about losing assets with immense long-term value.

If you’re booked on one of these affected routes, JetBlue will either offer you alternate flight options or a full refund back to your original payment method.

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