Will JetBlue Be Welcoming Its International Partners Under Its Roof at JFK?

It’s earnings season, and that means it’s time for a slew of long analyst calls to talk about the events of the last quarter. I don’t listen to them myself, because I’d never get any work done if I did. Instead, I just read PlaneBusiness to get the details on what happened. This quarter, a couple of things on JetBlue’s call jumped out at me, and it got me thinking. It looks like JetBlue might have the tools to bring not only its own flights, but also those of partners under its own roof. That would be huge. Take a look at this quote from the earnings call:

And then if you go over to JFK, just a little update. Of course, terminal five, we’re close to celebrating four years of really just optimum performance through that facility. We’re very close with the Port Authority of extending terminal five. We call it T5 International internally. It’s on the footprint of the former terminal six. Terminal six is — was not landmarked. It was obviously, as you know, originally there to support National Airlines decades ago. It is now a tarmac, and we are very hopeful that we will be breaking ground on an international arrival facility similar to what you see happening over at terminal four. There’s a lot of growth happening at Kennedy. We believe that having all of our operation under one roof — and again we will have Hawaiian Airlines in here very shortly — is really exciting.

This might not be breaking news, but it’s the first time I’ve really thought about this. An international facility at Terminal 5 would do wonders, wouldn’t it? Of course, it would allow JetBlue’s own international arrivals to land at Terminal 5 instead of running a split operation today, but it can do much more than that.

JetBlue has already announced that its partner Hawaiian will begin flying out of T5 when it comes to JFK. Hawaiian, however, is the only partner that can do that right now. American is certainly too large and it has its own new facility there anyway. Cape Air, the only other domestic partner, doesn’t fly to JFK. All the other partners are international, though I do wonder if Aer Lingus could move today because of its pre-clearance. I’m not sure. But, if JetBlue builds a new international wing on the footprint of the old Terminal 6, that opens a whole new opportunity, and it comes at a good time. Here’s JetBlue’s corner of JFK:

JetBlue's Corner of JFK

Remember that Delta is actively working to take over a huge chunk of Terminal 4 as a replacement for Terminal 3. With that, all existing airlines in Terminal 4 will be pushed to the eastern concourse, I believe. And you know which airlines are included there?

Aer Lingus, El Al, Emirates, LOT, Singapore, South African, TAM, and Virgin Atlantic are all both partners with JetBlue and tenants in Terminal 4. Given the opportunity to make connections simple and move to a brand new facility, you would think that many of these would jump at the chance. Sure that might not include airlines like Virgin Atlantic, which have invested a significant amount of money in facilities, but others don’t quite have those deep ties.

That would create a monster of an opportunity. Keeping all those flights in the same terminal reduces minimum connecting times and allows airlines to schedule tighter connections. For an airline like El Al, it could help make connections more competitive by reducing total transit time. The shorter the travel time, the higher those flights show up in reservation system displays. That could be a big deal for some of these airlines, which might be at a disadvantage versus other airlines that can connect within the US on their own flights.

I haven’t seen a ton of information on this Terminal 5 expansion yet, but it seems like a great plan for both JetBlue and its partners.

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27 Comments on "Will JetBlue Be Welcoming Its International Partners Under Its Roof at JFK?"

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Fred
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Can the terminal 5 expansion handle large jets? If not, that would instantly rule it out for many airlines. They probably won’t be able to handle the A380 (no Emirates or Singapore), but if they can’t handle the B747/B777/A340 that rules out most other carriers as well. JFK is so crowded that having adequate space around gates as well as space and facilities inside the terminals is big problem, and it would reduce overall capacity of the new terminal (look how close all the planes are spaced in the current T5)

SEAN
Guest
It’s possible that an extention of T5 could be designed to handle larger aircraft like the AirBus 380. Now if Delta moves from T3 to an enlarged T4 &JetBlue extends T5 on to the footprint of the former T6, shouldn’t the terminals get renumbered as they were some years ago? Delta also could extend T2 as part of a remoddle when T3 closes. Last I read T3 was slated to become aircraft parking, & a walkway was going to be constructed between terminals 2 & 4 along with 9 aditional gates. I forgot how much Delta was paying the Port… Read more »
Tim
Guest

On the question of whether T5/T6 would be able to handle wide-bodied aircraft the discussion ignored the fact that the HA flights from JFK to HNL will be non-stop from T5 using new wide-bodied aircraft. As far as I can tell from the HA website they will be using Airbus A330-200. Of course, the A-380 is larger ….

David SF eastbay
Member

It’s better then the space just sitting there empty. Being JFK is a big international gateway, more custom areas would only be a good thing if anyone could use them if it means not keeping passengers hostage on planes during bad weather if T6 had open gates and T4 was full.

scott.wintner
Member

Not necessarily — as has been discussed here before (primarily by me), more CBP space does not mean more CBP personnel. In fact, it’s been made pretty clear that CBP personnel will not grow in the forseeable future. So, while there may be more space to hold longer lines (which I suppose is better than being stuck on a plane), it’s not going to do anything to shorten the lines.

Scott
Member

No problem for EI’s pre-cleared flights to go into a ‘domestic’ terminal. Same thing happens in LAS where WS’s pre-cleared flights all go into the domestic only T1

DesertGhost
Guest

For all of the people who want jetBlue to merge with American, where would the combined airline’s terminal be? Airport expansions are expensive. I readily admit I could be wrong, but combining American and jetBlue at JFK seems like a logistical nightmare.

SEAN
Guest

JetBlue & American both have new terminals, but don’t forget about AirTrain. I seriously dout these airlines will merge since there networks overlap in the northeast & Florida. What I can see happening is American & USAirways tieing the not & JetBlue benefiting with route or frequency divestitures from the relaunched american.

doug
Member

I don’t think AA wants to outright merge with JetBlue, they just want to do domestic code-sharing. If they can win that scope concession from their pilots then merger would be several years down the road IMO.

Nick Barnard
Member

Interesting.. Makes me wonder if JetBlue is also looking at getting into the ground handling business.. at least in JFK..

Although looking at the “satellite image”, it seems the biggest obstacle to this is the walkway from the Airtrain station to Terminal 5.. But I’m sure that can be worked around.

Ron
Guest

“For an airline like El Al, it could help make connections more competitive” — They can start by pricing itiniraries like LGB–JFK–TLV at no more than two separate tickets on the same flights…

stan
Guest
none of this makes any difference as long as the ludicrously run TSA checkpoints at T5 continue to destroy the entire jetblue flying experience. i has taken me 45 minutes to clear security at T5 on a monday morning. it’s wonderful to see all 17 of those shiny new checkpoints lined up in T5 with only 5 or 6 actually operating and staffed by the rudest, laziest, and most insolent blueshirts i have ever come across. i have abandoned jetblue specifically because of the horrid TSA checkpoint in T5. i took my 2 or 3 flights a week to places… Read more »
Mike
Guest

i have to second that.
i can see why CF is excited but quite frankly, 5-10 minutes difference in transit due to closer terminal is totally irrelevant if there is no pre-clearance..
transiting without pre-clearance is such a nightmare.

you end up with very unpredictable wait at passport control, get screened again, re-check your luggage etc. even worse for foreigners at passport-control.

noahkimmel
Member
There is potential for a new checkpoint and ticket counter area in T6, while leaving existing T5 area for Jetblue. In essence, adding a post-security connection between 2 separate terminals, that happen to house Jetblue (T5) and their partners and international flights (t6/5i). As for TSA, they are terrible at T5. Partly because they do not open enough lanes, and partly because Jetblue caters to families and leisure travelers who are slower through the checkpoint than legacies. T5 is very time-of-day dependent. 20 min arrival difference can separate a 40 minute wait from a 4 minute wait. I do know… Read more »
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[…] I wrote about the possibilities for JetBlue to bring partners into Terminal 5 at JFK, but there was one other nugget in the earnings call that caught my eye. This one comes from Robin […]

Zack Rules
Guest

Cranky

How much of T6 was demolished? Was the head-end building demolished or just the Sundome? And any news on whether Oneworld/BA will move from T7 to an expanded T8?

noahkimmel
Member

they had stripped the jetbridges from all of the gates (some were moved to T5), and I was last there when they started the demolition. It appeared the entire building is to be demolished to make room for an entirely new building

Henry Harteveldt
Guest

I was just at JFK. T6 is completely gone.

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