JetBlue to Add Boston to Newark Service – What is their Strategy?

By | August 31, 2010
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JetBlue has announced an intention to fly from Newark Liberty Airport to Boston’s Logan Airport with four daily roundtrips effective May 2011. People often forget JetBlue is at Newark, but look at JetBlue in the New York area. Other than their hub at Kennedy Airport, they serve

  • New York-LGA – Orlando, Ft. Lauderdale
  • White Plains – Orlando, Tampa, West Palm Beach, Ft. Lauderdale, Ft. Myers
  • Stewart Airport/Newburgh – Orlando, Ft. Lauderdale
  • Newark – Orlando, Tampa, West Palm Beach, Ft. Lauderdale, Ft. Myers

If you bring in Boston, another hub/focus city for them, they have also filled in the space between with Hartford service, starting November 17th, to Orlando and Ft. Lauderdale. So, not counting connections in Orlando and Ft. Lauderdale to points south, all of the service out of these Northeastern airports are to Florida?

JetBlue also does the traditional Northeast corridor flights: Boston-New York-Washington. To be more specific, they do:

  • Boston-New York(JFK) – 6 flights daily
  • New York(JFK)-Washington Dulles – 2 flights daily
  • Boston to Washington-Dulles – 6 flights daily
  • Boston to Washington-National(DCA) effective November 1st – 7 flights daily
  • Boston to Baltimore-Washington(BWI) – 5 flights daily

The three metropolitan areas are connected by Acela train service, by a series of discount bus services, and by the shuttle services provided by Delta and US Airways. We initially thought JetBlue would try to challenge the shuttle model, but they drove down prices in the New York to Washington market when they came on, but are down to two flights daily. It is clear, and has been for some time that JetBlue is shifting its focus away from Kennedy.

And we advocated they do this, much as it pains us, being that JetBlue is “New York’s hometown airline“, after weather at Kennedy airport completely paralyzed their operations.They should not be too dependent on any one city for traffic and connectivity. But, perhaps, while shifting away from JFK, they are still interested in growing their New York operations.

We wish they felt a market for Newburgh, which is certainly underutilized, but there is demand for people on the New Jersey side who wish to fly out of Newark. We do wonder, however, at the choice of wording. “JetBlue will operate four daily flights to Newark’s Liberty International Airport, complementing its existing schedule of frequent daily flights between Boston and New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport.” Why did they choose to omit the number of daily flights between Boston and JFK? Are they planning to cut the number, or is this merely an omission.

We think this is all about Boston. “The new service will bring JetBlue’s industry leading product and the only low-fare competition into a notoriously high-fare market and bolster its presence as Boston’s #1 carrier, serving more nonstop destinations and carrying more travelers than any other airline.” Smarter Travel suggested the wording of the preceding sentence and the press release in general is reminiscent of Southwest Airlines.

We certainly agree that the timing of the announcement is probably is response to Southwest’s timing. But we don’t know if JetBlue had this in the works, and accelerated the announcement, or if it was reactive. Certainly, JetBlue has their leisure service to Florida out of Newark, but this Boston flight will go after more business oriented traffic. With more business travelers seeking frugality, the relative increased comfort of JetBlue’s inflight product is certainly a draw, even as much as we love Southwest Airlines, they don’t offer as good a seat pitch.

We also have to wonder what this means for the future of Newark as a JetBlue city? JetBlue has bracketed the entire New York metropolitan area, but mostly to Florida. Ultimately, we consider this part of their Boston expansion, for their customers there, and not part of any plan to expand in New York.

But what do you think? Send us your comments and feedback.