JetBlue Expanding in Southern California, Coming to LAX

As I briefly mentioned in yesterday’s post, JetBlue has decided to expand their presence in Southern California mostly starting May 21. This is welcome considering that after the initial burst of service at Long Beach and a minor move at Burbank, there really hasn’t been much action from them out this way.

08_02_13 laxredcarpetApparently JetBlue thinks this is a huge deal, because they had a lot of pomp and circumstance around the announcement. Their CEO flew in along with an army of crewmembers from Long Beach for the announcement. And LA Mayor Villaraigosa along with Councilman Bill Rosendahl (LAX falls in his district), literally rolled out the red carpet for them, as you can see at left. Fortunately, I had the chance to attend the press conference at LAX, but no, I didn’t get to hitch a ride on the flight from Long Beach.

On the surface, this looks like a big expansion, but what most media outlets aren’t reporting is that much of it is really just a reallocation of resources. Take a look at this table that summarizes the changes. The numbers are the changes in frequency. Anything in italics is a new route.

Los Angeles/LAX Long Beach Burbank San Diego Net Change

New York/JFK +3 -2 -1 0

Boston +1 -1 0

Washington/Dulles -2 +2 0

Seattle +2 +1 +3

San Jose +3 +3

Austin +1 +1

Las Vegas -1 +1 0

Salt Lake City +1 +1

Net Change +4 0 +2 +2 +8

Table Edited 2/13 @ 105p to reflect changes confirmed by JetBlue PR that conflict with information received at the press conference. There will now be only one Dulles flight cut from Long Beach. Instead of cutting the second one, they will cut one of the two O’Hare flights instead. The remaining flight will become a smaller Embraer 190. It is undecided what they will do with the now-unused O’Hare slot.

Table Reverted 2/13 @ 309p because it was apparently correct in the first place. O’Hare will not be changing. Hopefully the PR story won’t change again, but watch this space.

So, you see LAX gets flights to JFK and Boston, but those are taken away from other airports. That’s probably important at JFK where there isn’t much room to expand these days, but it’s most important at Long Beach. Remember, the airport is maxed out and JetBlue can’t start any new flights unless they get rid of some other ones. Before we get into that, let’s talk about LAX.

08_02_13 b6vxlax

Like I said, the airport will get flights to JFK and Boston. They can’t have many more than that, because they only have one gate in terminal 6. That’s gate 69, to be precise. Hmm, they should try a Southwest-style “love” message with that gate number.

Anyway, this is nothing but bad news for Virgin America since they’re targeting the same travelers and offering similar amenities. Virgin America may have one more flight per day, but JetBlue has better times, most significantly on the westbound. Virgin has no flight leaving JFK between 930a and 510p. JetBlue has a midday trip at 11a.

Down in Long Beach, most of the changes they’re making appear to be so they can introduce the smaller Embraer 190 into the market. Austin starts (the only one to begin May 1) probably because it’s the best way to get the plane from the east coast to the west coast, but San Jose and Seattle are interesting moves. Seattle is in direct competition with Alaska. They must think there’s enough room for two players in this market, because they’re going to be at a frequency and loyalty disadvantage. The odds aren’t stacked against them nearly as much as they are for Virgin America going against Alaska at LAX, however. They’re also doing Seattle to San Diego.08_02_13 b6lovlax Meanwhile, Burbank gets a couple Dulles flights, which is a nice addition.

I thought it was funny that at the press conference, the theme was all about the regionalization of airports in LAX, but that’s far from the case here. Sure, they added a couple flights at Burbank, but the restrictions on flying at Long Beach means they didn’t add anything, they just moved the flights around. It’s kind of hard to regionalize when the desirable regional airports don’t have any room.

Really, the big announcement is that they added LAX flying which goes against LA’s effort to move away from LAX. I thought it was pretty funny to see JetBlue CEO Dave Barger pressured to start more Ontario and even Palmdale flying. He laughed uncomfortably, but until Ontario lowers its fees, I can’t imagine they’re going to see much more traffic. And Palmdale? That’s way too far out there today.

So, good news for LA travelers in that you can now fly JetBlue out of LAX. It’s nice for LGB travelers to have more destinations, even if it is at the expense of some east coast flights. There are still plenty of options in those markets. I’m just happy to see JetBlue finally taking their eyes away from Northeast to Florida flying and giving us some love out here on the West Coast.

Click to see all my photos from JetBlue’s press conference.

15 Responses to JetBlue Expanding in Southern California, Coming to LAX

  1. DRG says:

    A company is an “it” not a “they.” JetBlue has decided to expand “its” presence not “their” presence.

  2. Bryan in San Francisco says:

    Well, they haven’t improved their service WITHIN California. For SFO to LAX it’s still Virgin America for me, and for Bay Area to Burbank (I love Bob Hope airport and its awesome train connectivity) it’s still Southwest for me.

  3. Bryan in San Francisco says:

    DRG: A company can be a they. I.e. “Jet Blue have expanded into LAX.” It’s a matter of preference and house writing style.

  4. james says:

    Well they’ve already had one extremely popular and successful landing at LAX…

  5. Wonko Beeblebrox says:

    Maybe they’ll start up PHX->LAX soon, with the E190s… I liked flying JetBlue back when they had the PHX->BOS nonstops, but I’m not interested in connecting in JFK unless I absolutely have to.

    I have no problem flying PHX->LAX->BOS. Heck, I’m doing that next month (on United)….

    Of course, I’m not sure PHX->LAX will support another carrier– you’ve already got US, WN, DL/XJ, and UA all doing that route as-is…

  6. DRG says:

    James said “A company can be a they. I.e. “Jet Blue have expanded into LAX.” It’s a matter of preference and house writing style.”

    …errr, no, this is false. A company is an “it.” They is plural and is used to refer to more than one of something. You would never say “JetBlue ARE introducing new routes,” therefore you cannot say “THEY are introducing new routes.”

  7. CF says:

    Oh man, I was going to stay out of this, but . . .

    I think the Queen would disagree with you, DRG. It’s very common to see “British Airways ARE . . .” over in the UK. For example, this part of BA’s site has something at the bottom saying “British Airways are in no way responsible for any problems associated with these plugins.”

    Does that mean I should have used it the way I did? Probably not. But I’m not going to bother changing it either.

  8. QRC says:

    Cranky – just curious what you think of the Embraer in general for Jetblue’s ops, I know they broke the SW mold by introducing the second plane. I find it pretty uncomfortable to fly in, is it really that cost-efficient for them? Ignore the fact that the short and medium halls are naturally more profitable, as an airplane for cost per pax per kilometer is it that much more efficient than their airbus? Did they get massive price discounts from embraer to buy that thing? The a321 is just so versatile, you can fly it across the country and still get good costs out of it from, say, an oak-long beach run given it’s not completely loaded up with gas. Jetblue only has two types of planes so maybe I’m just overreacting, but I don’t necessarily enjoy flying in that plane and I was wondering if it really was a huge benefit to jblu

  9. Wonko Beeblebrox says:

    You’re kidding, right?

    The A321 is versatile? Yes, it does have a low operating cost, but it does not have much of a gas tank, and it’d go overweight if one was ever installed. Heck, the A320 (much smaller and lighter) needs to make refueling stops on transcons when the wind kicks up.

    People think that an A321 is just like a 757 becuase they appear to be the same size. In fact, there is no real replacement for the venerable ’57.

    As to an E190, I have not been on an E190 yet, but I have been on an E175. Much preferred to a CRJ900. Real cabin size; real overhead bins; quiet; etc.

    Just my thoughts.

  10. DRG says:

    Somebody said regarding the Embraer 190: I find it pretty uncomfortable to fly in, is it really that cost-efficient for them?

    You are in a minority. The Embraer 170 series has been extremely well received by passengers and yours is the first complaint I have ever heard. I prefer flying in it over an Airbus any day.

    The Embraer was designed for smaller cities. Not every market is viable with an Airbus A320, which incidentally is the other aircraft that JetBlue flies (it has no A321s)

  11. DRG says:

    Someone said “I think the Queen would disagree with you, DRG. It’s very common to see “British Airways ARE . . .” over in the UK. ”

    Well first of all, the Queen doesn’t write British Airways materials. And yes, British Airways ARE is WRONG, no matter who writes it.

  12. CF says:

    QRC – I think everyone here beat me to it. The A321 is not really a versatile aircraft, but it also serves a completely different market than the 190. The 190 is a good aircraft that many people like. I have yet to fly one, but with B6 introducing them in Long Beach, I hope to be able to try one soon. It allows JetBlue to serve markets that are too small for the A320, so it’s not a bad idea at all.

    DRG – More info

  13. QRC says:

    Points taken on the versatility, you clearly know better than me.

    But I’m really shocked to hear about DRG’s experience in the 190 vs. the A321 on Jetblue. Have you guys flown much in either on them? If so my apologies I suppose we have difference in taste, although I really am surprised here. For three years I shuttled back between Bos and Oak on jetblue on the a321. After I started doing the East Coast to Austin on the 190s or on transfers through jfk up to bos, I longed for the airbusses again. Why? More overhead space, greater width of the aisle, and are the seats narrower too on the 190? Certainly if you have the window seat on the 190 you have less space than the airbus. It’s not necessarily fair in my opinion to compare it to the CRJ in Jetblue’s case…because the alternative isn’t really the CRJ, but rather the a321. thoughts?

  14. Wonko Beeblebrox says:

    jetblue does not have A321s; they have A320s (which for transcons was probably a mistake- they should have gone for the A319, IMHO).

    I don’t think there is really much more overhead space on a #20 than on an E190/E175. The rationale: yes, the overheads are large enough to store the rollaboards “wheels-in first” on a A320. Great, buy you’ve got to get 3 people’s worth above each person. An E175 stores them just find “sideways”, but only has 2 people on each side of the aisle, so there are less bags to occupy a smaller area.

    The extra bonus to the E190 is a guarantee of not being in a middle seat.

    As to the other point:
    The Alternative to an E190 is not an A320. They serve different markets.

    The E190 is most like a DC-9 or a CRJ900 or an A318 or a 737-200/500 in terms of capacity.

    The A319 is most like a 737-300/700 in terms of capacity.

    The A320 is most like a 737-400/800 in terms of capacity.

    The A321 is most like a 737-900 or a 757-200 in terms of capacity.

    Switching out an A320 for an E190 means losing money by not boarding a bunch of pax (due to less seats available); switching out an E190 for an A320 means running the A320 a good percentage empty and thus losing money there as well.

  15. Wonko Beeblebrox says:

    Put this another way:

    http://www.seatguru.com/airlines/JetBlue_Airways/JetBlue_Airways_Airbus_A320.php
    A320 Shows 25 rows x 3 x 3 = 150 seats

    http://www.seatguru.com/airlines/JetBlue_Airways/JetBlue_Airways_Embraer_190.php
    E190 shows 25 rows x 2 x 2 = 100 seats

    So, the two jets server different sized markets.

    But even then, that is not a sufficient enough distinction. You could realistically put another 2 rows in the A320 and still have a decent seat pitch (your weight would go up by 12 seats + 12 pax + one flight attendant, reducing the plane’s available range on those transcons), so the stats for comparison should be:
    A320 Shows 27 rows x 3 x 3 = 162 seats
    E190 shows 25 rows x 2 x 2 = 100 seats

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