Topic of the Week: Virgin America Goes to Newark, JetBlue to Philly

JetBlue, Virgin America

It looks like Virgin America finally picked up slots and gates to start Newark service. JetBlue is also starting a new city with service from Boston to Philly. What do you think? Good choices?

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29 comments on “Topic of the Week: Virgin America Goes to Newark, JetBlue to Philly

  1. PHL-BOS It will be good to have a second airline on the route. When SWA left the route fares doubled. Hoepfully jetBlue can make it work. Will be nice to see lower fares.

    1. Jetblue has a frequent flyer base and relevancy in BOS whereas WN didnt have relevance or connection opportunities or corp. contracts at either end.

      While Jetblue isn’t “thriving” in CLT/PIT, it is surviving, and for BOS to be a business-traveller focus for b6, PHL service was necessary. It is also the lowest risk of the top destinations not served from BOS by b6.

        1. Then again, B6 pulled out of JFK-PIT recently, presumably due to competition from DL (JFK and LGA), US (LGA), and UA (EWR).

    2. yo – I’m with Noah. This is a very different since JetBlue has a Boston loyalty base. Southwest was coming to the rescue with low fares and relying on that. JetBlue now comes into a high fare market along with a strong loyalty base. I bet it does well.

      Jason H – NYC is a totally different story for sure. The problem is that if you can fly regularly out of LaGuardia, nobody wants to go to JFK (from the city, I mean). So those short haul routes just aren’t going to work very well.

  2. I read something about Jetblue and PHL and it made it sound like they were going in with hundreds of flights to combat US. Then they mention two flights to Boston which made the whole story a joke.

    Virgin America can now cover the two big long haul airports from both SFO/LAX so that should help get more of a following. Now the question is how will UA react to this.

  3. Who knows?

    I do think Boston to Philly will work out for jetBlue since it has a solid base in Boston.

    As for San Francisco / Newark your guess is as good as mine.

  4. “Five JetBlue flights every day definitely beats a long drive, or the current air alternative,”

    But not coach bus or Acela? It would be interesting to see if you could make it from downtown Philly to downtown Boston in less than 5 hours by plane (when including getting to/from the airport-which isn’t too bad in Boston, security, wait time).

  5. EWR–LAX really needs competition: fares jumped from about $250 to $600 one-way after the United-Continental merger. Now there’s also a single American flight (when did that happen?), but fares are still high.

    I haven’t been following fares on EWR–SFO, but I’m guessing the situation is similar. Competition will be welcome. Let’s hope Virgin can make it.

    1. Ron – American has flown the Newark run for some time, actually, but they really are a non-factor. I think this is a good, high fare market for Virgin America. It won’t save them, but it’s a smart move.

  6. I think the Jetblue BOS-PHL move will work out. Not sure five flights a day will do it but competition on the route I think will be well received. Anything to make flying in and out of Philly more enjoyable is cool with me.

    1. I think the long term will become both airlines serving the route, but at different capacities/frequencies than they do today. Eventually, I see both airlines using mainline (jetblue a320s for some flights) and US dropping frequencies. I also see Jetblue growing PHL into Florida….both carriers are fierce competitors (Jetblue in LGB-LAS, BOS-BWI, BOS-ORD, etc. and US defending CLT, PHL against various competitors)

  7. The Virgin America announcement is GREAT news! I live in SF and my family in NJ so I do the SFO-EWR route 6-7 times a year. Fares this year (since the full integration of CO and UA) have been outrageous ($750 for Christmas….and that wasn’t on the peak travel days). There needs to be another direct option and VA will definitely shake things up for United.

  8. The PHL move is one which has been anticipated for awhile. I’m glad to see b6 going in with 5 daily as it brings relevancy compared to their usual style of starting stations with 1x daily. While the e190 is large for some of the mid-day flights, the business market may still allow b6 to be profitable and to get more contracts.

    How long until we see PHL-FLL/MCO/SJU and even TPA/RSW/LA area

  9. Im glad virgin got the LA/SFO service. (I would have preferred b6 launch the routes, but EWR growth is tough…)

    Hopefully this can give Virgin a market where they can make money without too much competition. They need a bread and butter route, and EWR is much better than ultra-competitive JFK

  10. I think VX starting EWR will be good for them and hopefully swing them to profitability next year. As for b6 going from BOS to Philly, I’m not so sure. If Southwest couldn’t make it work, as all the carriers before it, not sure if b6 can. Only thing that helps is that BOS is a base for them. And it’s nice to see the 4 to 5 times a day starting a city as opposed to their once or twice. IF they can make it work, I’m sure we will see MCO, FLL, and SJU after a year or so.

  11. It should also be noted that B6 currently operates 4x a day between EWR and BOS (with E190s also) and it’s worked out fairly well for them. The key is the brand loyalty they’ve been able to cultivate in BOS.

  12. Interesting that Virgin has cut growth but now finally goes into EWR. VX management said they had been trying to get into the market for years and implied it was the key to profitability but said the same thing about ORD. Incidentally, VX cut one frequency each from ORD and has cut elsewhere (BOS, PHL and IAD) to support new Newark service. But as with Chicago, I don’t think Newark will put them into the black.

  13. I like B6 BOS – PHL. It will give US some competition and B6 has a great following at BOS. It would be a different story if B6 didn’t have their base/following in BOS.

    I see VX’s decision to do SFO/LAX – EWR as yet another “glory” destination that will do little to help the airline. They need some niche markets without competition. There is no reason for anyone to fly VX because UA pretty much has their route map duplicated and UA’s network is much, much larger.

  14. B6 added BOS-BWI about two years ago to an already crowded route. Everyone thought it would only be a matter of time before one of the airlines threw in the towel, but two years later they are all still flying it (16 nonstops daily). I have had the opportunity to fly B6 on that route and love the airline. I just wish they would add other nonstops from BWI. It looks they saw an opening with SWA pulling out of Philly and grabbed it. It will be interesting to see if they stop with BOS-PHI or try to add other destinations. The BWI and PHI routes from BOS are mainly for the benefit of BOS originating traffic, unless they build it out more. I think VA to EWR is a good fit. It fits the strategy of flying into large business markets.

    1. The NY market is so large that it is really at another level in comparison to the rest of the U.S. EWR gets a substantial portion of the NYC business and leisure market and much of central and northern NJ (not inconsequential).

    2. Nick – Yeah, the market is really large but Newark is also way more convenient for anyone in New Jersey, some in Pennsylvania, and even many in NY State north of NYC. Also, depending upon where you are in NYC, you may very well prefer that to JFK too. So, Newark has a huge catchment and the fares are high. It’s not the same kind of huge money market as JFK is, but it’s still a good market.

      1. True.

        NYC is really two overlapping markets if you really give it some thaught. You have New Jersey & those parts of New York on the west side of the Hudson including Rockland & Orange Counties along I-84 & I-87 that have easier access to Newark vs Westchester, Putnum &Fairfield Counties as well as Long Island wich have better access to Kennedy & LaGuardia.

        NYC residents sort of have it both ways, as it depends on ones location & easy access to a given flight.

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