JetBlue Heads for San Francisco

JetBlue, Schedule Changes, SFO - San Francisco
San Francisco Airport (SFO) leaked (pdf) the news yesterday that a “major U.S. air carrier” would announce service to the airport today, January 9. Of all the major US airlines, only two don’t fly there – JetBlue and Southwest. Southwest pulled out several years ago after constant delays that gummed up their whole system, so I would have been shocked if they were returning. Meanwhile, JetBlue’s recent strategy has seen them bracketing metro areas. The additional tidbit that aircraft tours would be available made it even more likely to be JetBlue since that’s how they launched in Chicago.

Sure enough, the press release is out this morning. JetBlue will begin four daily flights to New York/JFK and one daily flight to Boston on May 3. Why are they doing this now?


Well, remember that little airline called Virgin America? They were going to be based in SFO and their first flight was to be to JFK until the DOT decided that they were foreign controlled more than the law allows. Virgin America plans to respond with their plans to the DOT tomorrow, January 10, but most people are skeptical about them being able to take flight. If they do, it won’t be for awhile.

So JetBlue saw the opportunity to be the only low cost carrier in this lucrative market without imminent threat of another airline’s entry and they jumped on it.

The Boston flight is only a redeye eastbound with an evening return westbound so it’s not much of a threat to existing airlines, but the same can’t be said for JFK. Even though there are only four daily flights, they’re spread out well during the day. This is bound to hurt Delta with three flights a day and American with five flights a day by lowering fares and stealing customers. United, which has 7 flights a day on its premium service flights, is bound to be hurt less since they cater mostly to business and first class customers. Of course, they will feel some of the pinch.

It’s an interesting and good move for JetBlue. They now serve the Bay Area well with most of the operation in Oakland but flights into San Jose and now San Francisco as well. It wouldn’t surprise me to see LAX flights next since they already have their main base of operation at Long Beach with smaller operations at Burbank and Ontario.

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