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JetBlue Adds Miami, Strikes at Delta Focus Cities With 24 New Routes

Edward Russell
December 17th, 2020 at 8:02 AM EST

JetBlue Airways’ confidence in its multi-route expansion spree shows in its latest plan to add 24 more new nonstops during the coronavirus pandemic. Many that strike at the heart of Delta Air Lines’ focus-city strategy.

On Thursday, the New York-based carrier unveiled 24 new routes, including seven from Raleigh-Durham alone plus four new dots on its map. The new destinations are Miami and Key West, Fla., from February 11; Guatemala City from April 15; and Los Cabos, Mexico from June 17.

But the expansion is not an “expansion” in the traditional sense. JetBlue will be smaller for much of 2021, and likely into 2022, than it was pre-Covid. The new routes, including the more than 50 it has already added, are part of an effort to expand its network breadth — and revenue base — at a time when market depth is less important. Southwest Airlines is following a similar strategy with plans to add 12 new destinations to its map by June.

“All the routes are aimed at immediately generating cash revenue and capturing traffic where the airline anticipates customer demand,” JetBlue said Thursday. At the end of November, the airline forecast cash burn of between $6-$8 million a day during the fourth quarter, at least a quarter higher than its guidance a month earlier.

There is no guarantee that JetBlue’s new routes will work but the airline has said it is satisfied with the revenue generated by its additions.

JetBlue’s latest expansion suggests the strategy is paying some (cash) dividends and demonstrates a growing confidence to muscle into new markets.

24 New Routes

Miami is the “busiest airport in the U.S.” not on JetBlue’s map, according to the airline. The city is also the main South American gateway for American Airlines, its new strategic partner on flights from Boston and New York. Initially, JetBlue plans 14 daily flights between Miami and Boston, Los Angeles — a route flown with its premium Mint product — Newark and New York JFK. The carrier did not say whether it would partner with American on the new flights.

Southwest Airlines added Miami to its map in November. Both JetBlue and Southwest previously served South Florida through just the Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach airports.

For its other new markets, JetBlue will connect Key West four-times weekly to both Boston and New York JFK. Guatemala City will get a daily flight to JFK as it was supposed to prior to the pandemic, and Los Cabos daily flights to both Los Angeles and JFK.

The balance of JetBlue’s new routes connect cities already on its map. Long-standing Delta focus city Raleigh will see the single largest expansion with new flights to Austin — also a Delta focus city — Jacksonville, Fla., Las Vegas, Newark, Orlando, San Francisco and Tampa beginning on February 11 and March 4.

Other new routes include Cancun to Austin, Nashville, Las Vegas and Sacramento. JetBlue will also connect JFK and Bogota, Los Angeles and Jacksonville, Newark and Atlanta, and San Francisco and Austin.

(Image courtesy of JetBlue Airways)

Edward Russell
December 17th, 2020 at 8:02 AM EST

Tags: JetBlue

Photo credit: A JetBlue Embraer E190 lands in Raleigh-Durham. Wikimedia / James Willamor

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