JetBlue Cuts Long Beach Again, Refuses to Rip the Band-Aid Off

JetBlue, LGB - Long Beach

If anyone understands what JetBlue is doing in Long Beach, please let me know. After trying all different kinds of things over the years, JetBlue has settled firmly into a downward trajectory. It was at 35 slots at one point, but it dropped to 24 when it realized it was losing too much money and that the city had no interest in actually supporting the airline. Now, starting in April, it will go down again to 15. This makes no sense.

As you all know, I’m a local resident who loves the airport and loves having JetBlue flight options here. But this blog isn’t about what I like personally; it’s about what makes sense for an airline from a business perspective. Flying to Long Beach beyond simply as a spoke touching the other focus cities doesn’t make sense. It serves no strategic purpose.

From the press release, you wouldn’t know what’s going on. There’s just a weirdly-vague mention about this.

Effective April 29, 2020, JetBlue will end service at Oakland International Airport (OAK) where it currently serves New York-JFK, Boston and Long Beach. JetBlue will continue to serve Bay Area travelers from airports in San Francisco and San Jose. In addition, JetBlue will reduce or eliminate flights on a half dozen short-haul routes in Long Beach as well as additional flights from Fort Lauderdale and Orlando.

That makes it sound like it will continue flying to San Jose from Long Beach, but it won’t. In reality, JetBlue will cancel its two daily flights to Oakland (which loses all service, even to the east coast), Sacramento, and San Jose. It will also cut Vegas from 3 to 2 flights per day. What do all these routes have in common? They all face competition.

Southwest has four daily flights to each of those three airports which JetBlue is abandoning from Long Beach. JetBlue was just never going to be able to compete. Meanwhile Delta added Vegas, so there’s just a lot of capacity. That is, I always thought, the best performing market for the airline, so it’s a curious choice. Regardless, the message is clear.

Attention competitors: If you start flying a competitive route from Long Beach, we’ll just fold up shop.

This leaves JetBlue with a mere 15 flights per day as follows (during the summer schedule):

  • Austin – 1 daily
  • Boston – 1 daily
  • Bozeman – 2 weekly
  • Las Vegas – 2 daily
  • New York/JFK – 13 weekly
  • Portland – 1 daily
  • Reno – 1 daily
  • Salt Lake City – 19 weekly
  • San Francisco – 2 daily
  • Seattle – 2 daily

This means Southwest will now likely become the largest airline in Long Beach. If we assume that JetBlue actually relinquishes its 9 excess slots — the airline did not bother to respond to my question about that — and then we add the 3 new slots that are up for grabs at the airport thanks to reduced noise, then we would have 12 slots up for grabs.

Southwest wants those for sure. In fact, a spokesperson for the airline had this to say when I asked:

We have a list of opportunities for our California Customers who prefer Long Beach as their gateway to the Southwest network. We appreciate a great relationship with the City as we’ve looked for ways to pair our willingness to serve with a well-established demand for our take on air travel.

Delta was the only other airline to show interest last time, and that was purely out of spite to prevent Southwest from getting the slots. It continues to squat by flying those airplanes to Vegas. Would it really be interested in sitting on even more slots? I didn’t receive a response when I asked, but Delta does remain on the waitlist alongside Southwest and Hawaiian. Hawaiian, however, is there more as a technicality. It hasn’t shown any interest in further slots.

With Southwest able to get more slots, it could really build out Long Beach further. I’d expect a restoration of the Vegas flights it had to give up along with Denver (which was going to go daily until slots disappeared) and possibly Phoenix (which could spell disaster for American’s lone route). Otherwise, I’m looking for frequency bumps in existing markets. Southwest is now in a position to turn Long Beach into another regional airport along the lines of Burbank and Ontario, albeit at a smaller scale.

What does all this mean for JetBlue? I just don’t know. I simply can’t understand this new strategy at all. Dying by a thousand cuts is a pretty bad way to go. If the airline had walked away, I’d understand. Or if it had just cut down to serve its other focus cities, that would make sense too. But this weird, little semi-focus city is nuts. It’s also really bad for employees, though I somehow imagine that JetBlue thinks the opposite is true.

As I understand it, crew bases are not being cut, so this just means a whole lot fewer hours are available for crews locally. They can expect a lot more flying into the east coast network to keep those numbers up. And on the ground, JetBlue is cutting 25 employees which just slashes through the culture in a small city like this. This does damage to the airline more than a full pullout would have done, because it just feeds the uncertainty going forward.

This move effectively crowns Southwest as the king of Long Beach. For JetBlue, it’s puzzling. The airline should just rip off the band-aid and stop messing around. Its West Coast strategy has failed.

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65 comments on “JetBlue Cuts Long Beach Again, Refuses to Rip the Band-Aid Off

  1. JetBlue pulls out of LGB, Southwest takes over the gates, airfares go up, and the people of Long Beach complain. And who is to blame? The City of Long Beach whose citizens voted these clowns in. Great job

    1. If JetBlue pulls out, and Southwest replaces them with about the same amount of capacity, then airfares will only go up to the extent that people find Southwest’s offering to be more attractive. Broadly-speaking, capacity is capacity. This is not to defend the city of Long Beach in any way, just to note that all-other-things-equal (which of course it won’t be) replacement of a JetBlue seat by a Southwest seat isn’t, per se, a reason to expect pricing to rise.

      Also, the problem for JetBlue is that LGB fares are too low. So, the only way JetBlue would have stuck around is also that fares would have increased. In other words, whichever airline (if any) succeeds at LGB, it will likely happen because fares go up, and the same would have been true in an alternate reality where JetBlue found a way to make it work.

  2. My local airport is ONT. Wife flew to Vegas. 1 week notice. Fare was $140 or so from ONT. $55 from LGB. She flew from LGB. LGB fliers – check ONT to see what happens to fares when Southwest controls an airport.

    1. Let’s be honest, it’s not just Southwest Airlines who take advantage of having a monopoly on market share. I live in SLC, and Delta definitely makes you pay for their nonstop flights. It’s just the way the industry works.

      1. The difference is WN likes to think of itself as a low fare carrier, and it’s usually par with the legacies.

        1. I do love when people pay $75 more per ticket to fly WN because their bag flies “free”..if you’re checking 2 bags each way sure, but unless you’re staying somewhere a long time, WN doesn’t fly all that many places that checking 2 bags seems necessary!

  3. The beginning of the end for JetBlue was the city not building the international arrivals facility. And Southwest’s arrival.

    1. Bill from DC,

      I actually believe the beginning of the end occurred when the City of Long Beach refused Jet Blue’s request to use the commuter slots for expanded E-190 service. The play for the commuter slots was a play for both aircraft gauge rightsizing (i.e., scheduling 100 seats vs. 150 seats at off-peak times) and network girth at LGB.

      With that said, an obviously now-academic thought I’ve long possessed (and perhaps I’m afflicted by my own special brand of crazy) – I really thought that B6 should’ve approached Ted Vallas/California Pacific. Cal Pac was being organized about the time B6 made it’s request to Long Beach.

      Though Mr. Vallas had a very specific vision for his airline, a theoretical B6/California Pacific business relationship may have proven beneficial for both companies.

      1. Good point on the commuter slots. Basically LGB has always treated B6 like an interloper instead of a business partner.

  4. I would have thought that, operationally, Oakland would be cheaper than SFO. But of course SFO has more international traffix, aiding connections to JetBlue.

      1. Almost half of SFO’s O&D originating traffic comes from OAK’s backyard. It just doesn’t show up as OAK O&D then of course.

  5. LGB-SLC has a lot of capacity. Nineteen JetBlue A320 per week along with one DL A319 and three or four Skywest E170/175 per day. I’m surprised there is that much demand. DL has connecting opportunities; Jetblue has limited connections. There are DL and WN flights LAX-SLC , along with regional jet service on AA, UA, and AS. DL / Skywest also fly SNA/ONT/BUR- SLC.

  6. I cannot understand why AA doesn’t want an LGB slot to use on DFW. They want to fly everywhere else on earth from there, but not LGB. Does it just perform that poorly for them from PHX?

    1. I think they are trying to force connections over PHX
      to try and strengthen it’s viability as a hub instead of crowding DFW further

      1. I agree. If PHX is not viable as a hub for American, then it’s a repeat of Nashville, St. Louis, San Jose & Reno. It’s ironic that in each of those cases Southwest grew & became the top dog even though they were there prior to American pulling out.

      2. Bill – FYI – The Long Beach flights date back to America West. They’ve been there for a long time. I’m a bit surprised American hasn’t added flights to DFW, but apparently the demand isn’t there. They have a lot more information than I do about those things.

        1. American doesn’t have the financial strength to engage in strategic skirmishes that might not generate immediate short-term profitability. Their CASM is the highest in the industry just 6 years after emerging from bankruptcy.

          They continue to shrink in NYC including in their marquee JFK-LAX market and are trying to reassert themselves in Boston after walking away from many markets; some of their capacity for the reintroduction of routes at Boston are from JFK capacity.

          Delta’s additional capacity at Miami – up 50% with 5 new routes year over year even this summer which is when you least expect new MIA domestic capacity – is a huge shot across the bow to AA.

          LGB simply doesn’t compare to its east coast challenges in strategic importance to AA right now.

          1. Contrary to your desires, American isn’t going away. I simply stated the fact that American’s Long Beach flights go back to the days of America West and have been around a long time. As you correctly point out, Long Beach isn’t vital to American’s survival. That also means that it shouldn’t be a huge financial drain to compete, either. I seriously doubt American is going to ask Mesa to add some CRJ-900s to Miami.

            As for American’s overall financial position, and with all due respect, I saw you question an assertion about Delta’s financial strength and profitability on another of Cranky’s posts, asking where the poster got the information to back up his or her opinion. My answer: from the same place you get yours. You often make many of the same kinds of assertions about profitability you criticized from that other individual. To me, the bottom line is that American, Delta, Southwest, and United’s managements have FAR MORE and FAR BETTER information about their individual routes’ financial performance than we do.

            Since you and others constantly dredge up American’s New York market presence, Delta’s presence in Chicago is similar to American’s in New York, yet I don’t see Delta starting a Chicago hub anytime soon (which it should theoretically do if one applies the same “logic” as American’s critics apply to New York). Delta’s service to Chicago is appropriate given its market position. American’s service to New York is being structured to become appropriate to its situation there. That’s all any airline can do.

            As for Miami, Delta has no assurance that going head-to-head across-the-board with American will result in anything but a financial disaster. Delta is obviously adding to its presence in Miami to support its upcoming joint venture with LATAM. But outside of Salt Lake City, its adds so far (unless I’ve missed something) have been to places where passengers would have to backtrack to Atlanta. It seems to me that Delta’s management is smart enough to know when and where to add capacity and, just as importantly, when to stop.

            Addressing Long Beach, New York and Miami, the days of airlines adding capacity willy-nilly are over, done, gone, kaput. No airline can be everything to everyone, not even Delta.

            1. Ghost,
              As always, I am glad you replied.
              The LGB issue has become far bigger strategically for the airlines involved than many might like to admit. And the ability to support all strategic initiatives comes down to profitability.
              Airline execs do have lots more data than I do but airlines generate enormous amounts of data that the public can see including the average fare and share information which CF cited.
              All publicly traded companies including airlines publish their profits, and whether you like to hear it or not, American is the least profitable US airline on a profit margin basis. It also has the highest unit cost (CASM) which is stunning given that American is the last legacy carrier to have been in bankruptcy.
              The reasons for American’s low profitability and its low margins are because of the American/USAirways merger, as hard as it is for you or others to hear. American (NASDAQ:AAL) has 25,000 more employees to generate the same or less ASMs and/or revenue than Delta and United. The excess number of employees is directly related to Parker’s need to gain labor support for the merger but AAL is now handicapped in its ability to get costs down to competitive levels.
              Add in that American is quickly becoming exactly what USAirways was from a network standpoint – a domestic airline with a very weak and money losing international network – and it is becoming increasingly obvious that the American/USAirways has not delivered what was promised. Part of the reason why AA isn’t interested in any more risks in S. California is because it offers the US airline industry’s lowest average fares on its LAX-PEK flights and is certain to lose tens of millions of dollars just on that route alone – after cutting Chicago-China. On top of that, its A321T transcon strategy has left AA with shrinking market share and average fares even as B6 and DL have grown theirs. AA continually refers to DCA, CLT and DFW as its most profitable hubs and is growing there; no one wants to talk about the “problem hubs” including LAX.
              From a financial standpoint, AAL is unsustainable. I didn’t say they were going away but no company can continue to be as uncompetitive cost-wise. And it is precisely because of American’s lack of ability to be cost-competitive that Delta, by far the most aggressive legacy carrier in growing into other carrier strength markets, has its eye continually on AA hubs. Delta can start picking routes off in AA hubs without impunity.
              As for NYC, American was larger there than Delta for decades; American’s unwillingness to file for chapter 11 in the years after 9/11 left them with higher costs than everyone else. B6 rapidly grew while AA shrank. DL moved into many markets from JFK that AA abandoned. Even at LGA, Delta gets equal or higher average fares in top AA markets. American (or United) doesn’t have anywhere close to the amount of revenue or share in any top DL market that DL has in LGA-ORD, a market that DL has grown but which has traditionally been dominated by AA and UA.
              DL never had a post-deregulation hub in Chicago. It had a large point to point operation which included L1011s to places including Houston but they walked away from ORD other than to their hubs; they still fly only to their hubs and focus cities – but that list keeps getting longer and DL keeps adding markets from ORD including Seattle, Raleigh-Durham and Boston – on top of both JFK and LGA.
              As for MIA, it was a given that AA would lose its position as the only US carrier serving MIA to Latin America (other than DL’s HAV flights). Again, high AA costs and the failure of AA and Latam to get a JV was the setup. AA has plenty of strategically important routes; DL just has the resources to grow into those markets and AA is vulnerable in a situation that is not much different than has taken place in other industries.
              LGB is a microcosm of the industry as a whole. DL and WN have the resources to endure a shootout while B6 has to pull back and AA sits on the sidelines. AS, who has been there before isn’t getting into the fray for now while UA wants nothing to do with LGB – for now.
              The fact that LGB hasn’t attracted Frontier or Allegiant or Spirit might say something about how much potential the market really has since they are growing rapidly elsewhere and do form a part of the nationwide competitive landscape.

        2. And with America West taking over US Airways, and US Airways taking over AA…the history now dates back to PSA of the 70s at LGB!

        3. And with America West taking over US Airways, and US Airways taking over AA…the history now dates back to PSA of the 70s at LGB!

    2. dfw88 – LGB has not been a great market for American, but it is getting better. Cutting from 5 to only 3 flights per day has helped. I looked at Diio by Cirium for the data. It’s pretty incredible that in Q2 2009, AA/US was carrying 81.1 local pax per day at a 19.3 cent yield. In Q2 2019, it was carrying 87.5 local pax per day at a 41.9 cent yield. So things have improved dramatically in that sense. In fact, in Q2, LGB had a higher average fare than Burbank and LAX in the local market. It ran just over 82 percent full which isn’t bad at all. So there may be hope for this to be a good market… unless Southwest enters. That will trash fares without a doubt.

      Burbank-DFW didn’t start until Q2 last year, and that’s all the data I have access to now, so it’s hard to see if this is going to significantly hurt that market yet. But I imagine that may be a blueprint. Of course, if AA adds DFW, it would have to cut a PHX flight, and two a day might not be worthwhile.

      1. I member an earnings call where Doug Parker pointedly stated that Southwest is a “rational” competitor. The fact that both airlines ave coexisted as well as they have over many years (since 1983 – 36 years) in Phoenix is a testament to that. It’ll be interesting to see what both American and Southwest do in Long Beach. Nothing will surprise me.

  7. Time for JetBlue to get out of Long Beach already! Better to focus their energy on a merger with Alaska as that would be a strength to have on both coasts & then develop a mid-continent focus city. I think STL would crave having a reestablished hub that they lost when American pulled out after buying TWA.

    1. STL has a hub, just not a traditional legacy hub: Southwest Airlines. No regional airline feed to smaller markets, but consider that WN operates more seats per week now than Ozark Airlines did at their peak, including OZ’s regional feed. Nothing close to the TWA heyday, but of all the shuttered legacy hubs, STL (and BNA, maybe RDU) has recovered the best. The only thing STL is “craving” at the moment is a TATL link. Until they throw some revenue guarantees out there, STL is always in a “maybe next time” situation for that coveted LHR (or wherever in Europe) link.

      1. Sorry… STL was ment only to be an example. I could have used Austin as that is a rapidly growing area with tech companies as the research triangle is for medical & science development. Either way being centered allows JetBlue to establish an important site to connect both coasts without the massive congestion in Dallas, Houston, Atlanta, Minneapolis, Detroit or Chicago.

      1. MCI is actually losing a few gates with the new terminal. Yes, airside connections will be 500% easier, but are they gonna spend million$$$ to try and shove WN out of the top spot? Or even muscle their way to the #2 spot?

  8. In reading a number of airline blogs, one can’t escape the assertion that in-flight entertainment seems to be the main factor separating “good” airlines (i.e., those who get a “revenue premium” by offering a “superior” product) from “bad” ones (i.e., those who don’t). Yet, in the case of Long Beach, it’s the (allegedly) “bad” airline that seems to be winning the battle.

    How can this be?

    P.S. I’m trying to be facetious, not sarcastic.

    1. DesertGhost,

      I think it’s a matter of Long Beach being a small O & D airport Vs Los Angeles being a huge international gateway.

  9. Southwest is a California airline that happens to be headquartered in Texas.
    The only reason they are interested in LGB is because it is one of the few medium sized airports where it is not the dominant airline.
    Given that LAX is once again near its capacity limits for domestic flights, with a little help when the MSC opens, it makes sense to stake out growth opportunities. The focus of ONT to be a viable alternative combined w/ LGB means that S. CA has a decent amount of capacity growth, esp. for low fares which takes some pressure off of LAX to keep growing.

    The LGB market will likely continue to be lower yielding. LUV just happens to have the cash to sustain losses so that it can dominate the airport. With a CASM higher than JBLU, it is doubtful that WN can make money where B6 did not.
    B6 ticked off the LGB community with its repeatedly noise violations, something no other carrier did to anywhere near the same degree. The B6 brand is ruined at LGB by their own actions; the community is not that big.

    I’m not sure what your definition of slot squatting is but any airline that actually operates service that sells would seem to be doing more than slot squatting. Delta has service to LAS from multiple non-hub cities in the west so I’m not sure how LGB-LAS is any different than the others. Back to point 1, though; LGB has lower fares so it is not likely anyone is making money. You have to ask why Delta’s interest in the airport is any different than LUV’s. Like WN, DL has the cash to develop its network. DL does have a history of being present at any airport at which a competitor could or does provide service to any of its hubs; its primary focus from LGB is SLC. Any additional routes incrementally reduce its cost to operate SLC service.

    WN and DL and anyone else that remains get a certain amount of credit in the LGB community for sticking around where B6 could not.

    The fact that the cuts at LGB, even if incomplete were accompanied by many others across B6’ network including to the Dominican Republic and Cuba – which B6 touted as a huge opportunity that it would develop – says that B6 has simply made some bad strategic decisions and they are not in a position to sustain them all any longer.

    1. You can call what Delta is doing in LGB anything you want, but it is running more flights than it would from the airport if it weren’t trying to sit on slots. It basically just found the shortest haul option it could to burn those slots and though we don’t know fares yet, I can’t imagine it’ll be much better than the garbage that Southwest and JetBlue have taken in the market previously. (And for JetBlue, that’s actually one of the best performers from LGB…) Southwest was worst with a brutal $56 fare in Q2 2019. That’s less than half the Orange County fare.

      1. I’m not sure what your criteria for slot squatting is but offering lower fares than from other LA Basin airports would make every airline’s flights from LGB slot squatting.
        But Delta did meet the requirements for slots just as B6 and WN did. Given that Delta is the largest slot holder at US airports, they understand what they need to do to be present at key airports – of which LGB is one by their willingness to fly there – along with AA.

        And if Delta announces plans to launch a bunch of flights from LGB now, then we can look at those proposals and see how they compare to other airlines’ proposals but LAS is all but a focus city for Delta.

        And WN will be able to launch a bunch of routes from LGB; how long they sustain them or how many they launch might well determine how profitable the flights actually are – and how quickly B6 walks away completely.

        Finally, if you think slots are really being manipulated at LGB, go to a City Council meeting and ask that slot controls be removed. Slots are a distortion to the free market wherever they exist. They exist because the demand – sometimes perceived and sometimes real – is more than supply. At LGB, the real demand for now properly doesn’t exist. If DL and WN are holding onto slots for flights that aren’t as profitable as from other LA airports, it is probably because they want to ensure they have a presence in the future if they need it.

        1. You are far too focused on the use of the word than the actual meaning. If an airline is flying routes not for market-based reasons but solely to keep another airline from using them, that’s squatting. It may not be in the traditional sense where they sit on the real estate and don’t use it at all, but it’s the same ultimate purpose. In a world without slots, I can’t imagine any way that Delta flies to Vegas from Long Beach. Heck, I can’t imagine it flying 5 daily to Salt Lake either, for that matter. This is purely a move to keep Southwest from using them.

          I never suggested it was against the rules or that the rules should be changed. If Delta wants to squat on these slots and fly cheap fares to Vegas, it has every right to do so. But it’s still squatting.

          1. I am not sure why you are so convinced that Delta doesn’t have market-based reasons to fly LGB-LAS given that they serve multiple non-hub cities in the west from LAS.

            The reason why Delta flies as much from LGB to SLC is because B6 also flies it.

            What is your point? Have you been wanting WN to come along and take out B6?

            If WN wanted to fly to LAS they could have done so even with the slots they previously gained; they just couldn’t have flown as many times to other destinations and hastened B6′ demise.

            Even for WN, LGB is window dressing. They have far bigger fish to fry in SJC, DEN, Hawaii and elsewhere. Their schedules show that even as they reduce capacity all along the northern tier of the US including in SEA, MSP, DTW, NYC, BOS – all of which are legacy carrier hubs; but they have also cut capacity to MDW because, well, they dominate the market and they can cut capacity in their own top markets so they can go slay dragons in someone else’s markets.
            If they drop their already MAX reduced schedule to apply for a bunch of LGB service, will you be happy that they are jumping into markets that B6 couldn’t make work even though B6 has lower costs?

            1. I’m confused as to why you don’t think Delta would fly a route to block other airlines. Yes, Delta flies from the west coast to Vegas outside of its hubs, but it generally has better rationale than from Long Beach.
              Delta already flies from LAX 7 times a day and Orange County 4 times a day on this route. It covers what it needs. Flying from LGB is just going to lose the airline money both on an operating basis but also by stealing traffic from the other airports that it might have been able to fly for a higher fare. There is not strategic value in this route.

              As for Salt Lake, JetBlue flies it 3 times daily most days, less on others. If Delta is worried about competitiveness, it doesn’t need to fly it more than that. It already has the SLC loyalty and beyond connections.
              It doesn’t need to fly those flights, but it does, and my assumption is that it’s because it wants to sit on those slots. If JetBlue walks away, I doubt we see a reduction from Delta. Then it would just be giving the slots back to Southwest.

              Regarding Vegas, Southwest did fly that until JetBlue gave up its last round of slots and they were split between Delta and Southwest. It had to make cuts, and it opted for the more business-friendly markets up to the Bay Area than having Vegas. That makes sense for the play that Southwest is trying to make in Long Beach.

              To address your last point, I think Southwest is making a mistake flying to Long Beach. Those slots may someday be worth more as the area continues to grow and succeed, but for now, they aren’t worth much. It’s a cheap market that’s wedged in between LAX and Orange County and it doesn’t really provide much utility today. I understand the strategy Southwest is employing, but I have trouble believing in it. Long Beach shouldn’t matter to these airlines, and really, it doesn’t. But Delta saw an opportunity to poke a stick in Southwest’s eye, and it thought that would be fun. So it did.

            2. Brett,
              Whether you see the reason for why Delta flies a route doesn’t really matter and Delta doesn’t have to justify it to me or to you. They clearly see a reason and met LGB’s requirements for slots.
              You still have not given a reason why B6 or WN’s use of the slots isn’t blocking someone else; who is to say that B6 wasn’t sitting on all of those slots for as long as they did to keep WN out.
              and who is to say that WN isn’t going to do the same thing.
              If LGB hasn’t generated decent yields for B6, there is very little likelihood that it will for B6 either.
              The domestic airline industry is deregulated. No one has to justify why they serve any route or with how much frequency.

              oh, and yeah, I do think Delta is looking at opportunities to poke Southwest – and my opinion about what Delta’s motivations on this issue count as much as yours about DL and LGB. They keep bringing up the Love Field case every chance they get. The difference is that Delta has abundant capacity to deploy right now while Southwest is in contraction mode. Even when the MAX flies again, Southwest has made it clear by its repeated schedules that include the MAX that it is shifting its network to the west and southwest and out of northern tier hubs, which predominantly are Delta’s. In contrast, Delta continues to grow in some of WN’s top markets.

              Meanwhile, WN will have enough slots to expand at LGB and if it didn’t see the justification to fly to LAS before, it will be interesting to see if they do and DL retains its service. If both serve the route, will LAS-LGB still have no strategic value to them? and if they redeploy that capacity to some other LGB market, will Delta just be blocking someone else?

              You might also want to know that the latest DOT data shows that Delta picked up more O&D passengers and revenue from the top 5 LA Basin airports than any other airline; AA also gained while AS, B6, UA and WN all lost share.

              LGB doesn’t come close to moving the dial in terms of the Basin; maybe DL really does get strategic value that you don’t see.

            3. “You still have not given a reason why B6 or WN’s use of the slots isn’t blocking someone else; who is to say that B6 wasn’t sitting on all of those slots for as long as they did to keep WN out.”

              Why would I give you a reason when I don’t believe it? JetBlue has absolutely been squatting on slots. It was so blatant that the city changed the rules on slot usage. Even today it still sits on about 2 or 3 slots that it doesn’t use each day. But what’s your point? You are putting words in my mouth as if I’m saying Delta is doing something terrible and the others are angels. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Delta is doing something, and I didn’t pass judgment on it. It is sitting on slots it doesn’t really want to use, and others have done the same in the past. That is the extent of what I’m saying.

            4. CF,
              do you realize that DL actually flies LGB-LAS up to 3X per day in addition to an A319 plus several Ejets to SLC?

              If you think 7 flights/day to 2 cities which Delta actually flies is slot squatting, I am wondering what you would call AA’s continual cancellation of dozens of JFK flights even after scheduling them. They used the runway reconstruction as an excuse not to fly the flights (even though B6 and DL added flights and the number of flights at JFK was actually up slightly) and then AA has used the MAX as an excuse – even though they have added far more flights to, wait, wait, DFW and CLT. Like WN, AA has managed to find capacity to grow where it wants despite the MAX grounding.

              Some airlines really are slot squatting.

              DL at LGB is not one of them. They are flying their schedules that are actually less than what they are operating from other airports in the LA Basin to the same cities.

  10. Cranky, you accused DL of “slot squatting” to prevent WN from getting LGB slots. While I don’t agree with the squatting, it’s clear DL is in a “pissing match” with WN. This starts with DAL and the battle for two gates at Love Field. I don’t think DL realized how important LGB was to WN in the beginning. However, once DL noticed WN’s SNA slots being taken away two years in a row, they made a play for LGB slots.

    I don’t believe they are slot squatting since they offer LAS service from SAN, SNA, SJC, PDX, BNA, IND, etc, a mini-hub. Plus several several Sky Team members have international service out of LAS.

    1. I read some time ago that despite the low yields at LAS for carriers more international airlines want to start service there for two reasons… 1. the cities reputation as a destination & 2. as an alternative to congested airports LAX & SFO in particular. If DL wants to develop LAS further, it maybe an interesting move despite having hubs in LAX & SLC. The only fly in the ointment is as I said the low yields there.

  11. One thing B6 didn’t try that always puzzled me was LGB to DEN, ORD, DFW, IAH/HOU, MCO (Disney), ATL.

    On a related note, it’s shocking that only Southwest can make a profit in OAK. The East Bay has a huge
    population and suburban area, including a large upper middle class, that have no other convenient Airport to use.
    (If you live/ have lived in the East Bay SFO is not convenient or desirable.)

    1. Jack – JetBlue did fly to Chicago, but it pulled out when fare pressure made it fail. And while JetBlue didn’t try Denver, Frontier did and failed miserably. The problem in those markets was a general issue of low fares out of LAX. If the fares were too low there, then JetBlue wouldn’t be able to keep its fares much higher, especially without any significant frequency. These could work in a world where JetBlue could run 100 flights a day and actually build out a business schedule, but that was never in the cards.

      1. CF,

        I thought JetBlue flew LGB – ATL at one time, but pulled out when DL dumped capacity on the route to force JetBlue to compete or run. And run JetBlue did.

        1. SEAN – Ah yes, that was WAY back in the early days. JetBlue ran away from Atlanta with its tail between its legs pretty quickly.

          1. The way I remember it, it was around the same time AirTran started looking west. I think of it as JetBlue’s LGB-ATL route got caught in the crossfire between Delta and AirTran on LAX-ATL.

      2. F9 did try LGB and failed, but not because of demand. There was plenty of demand, they had bad schedules. They ran a daily RON/kickoff flight, but the turn only operated 3 days a week. Also, Bryan Bradford ran a terrible airline. He may have been great for running a carrier with CPA, but he knew nothing about branded service. The other problem with F9s service to LGB – it was operated by Republic, flown with an airplane in Midwest colors, sold as Frontier! They were their own worst enemy at LGB!

        1. Spirit – No question that the Frontier at the time was a mess, but I still think it stands that Denver is a tough market. There is a lot of competition in there already including ULCC service from LAX, Orange County, and Ontario. While it might work(ish) in the Southwest network, JetBlue would not do well in there.

          1. Agreed! CO, UA, and F9 have all tried and failed over the years. Perhaps WN found the solution – weekend service offering a mix of connections and local O and D. And TBH, I think the DEN service does better with daily LGB-LAS – offering better weekday connections to DEN and eastbound.

            What are your thoughts of AA adding DFW with a CRJ-700. As you know, the CRJ-700 qualifies as a commuter slot at LGB. Or, they could change a PHX to a CRJ-700 and add a DFW as an E-175 or CRJ-900.

            Any idea what WN will add?? I know LAS will be back to daily, but anything long haul like MDW, STL or DAL??

            1. SpiritFF – I still think DFW is unlikely, but if it were to happen, but it could certainly be done if American wanted to. As for Southwest, I’ve given my thoughts in the post. I’d expect Vegas and Denver since those were markets it had at higher frequency before it lost out. Maybe Phoenix but most likely is additional frequencies on existing routes.

    2. It’s hard to think of other airports undershooting their market profiles by more than OAK at this point. In the near term the only obvious hope I see is UA. They have the FF base in the area and the resources to go back in in a meaningful way. Hopefully we’ll see an announcement soon.

    3. Regarding MCO. Yes, it has the draw of Disney World. But you’re talking about from Southern California here, which is the home of the original Disneyland and Universal Studios. So I can see why LGB-MCO was never tried. LGB is the closest airport to Disneyland (closer than SNA by a couple miles, driving distance). You can literally drive out of the airport loop, continue straight onto Wardlow Road, which becomes Ball Road when you cross the Orange County line. Ball Road is the northern perimeter of Disney property; a right turn on Disneyland Drive will lead you into the park’s main parking structure.

      1. There is likely no traffic from Disney Land to Disney world. It would be from Disney corporate, in Glendale, to Orlando. A “Disney shuttle” would therefore be from BUR to MCO, not LGB.

  12. A few things to keep in mind.
    1) JetBlue needed the aircraft on the east coast to fly out of JFK/BOS. JFK because it has apparently being sitting on a bunch of slots it wasn’t using. BOS for obvious reasons.
    2) cuts were all throughout the network on the low performing routes, not just LGB.
    3) of the remaining LGB routes, SEA/PDX/RNO/JFK/BOS/SLC are all around system average in margin. AUS is a little below average. SFO/LAS do worse but they keep them around because these are large markets. They are unlikely to face additional competition outside of maybe LAS. But LAS is down to 2 flights now, they should be able to fill that.
    4) LGB continues to be a yield nightmare for WN. We will see how long they keep these up. LGB will no longer be a yield disaster after these cuts for B6.
    5) Unless they get more LAX gates, LGB is unlikely to see more cuts for a while. If they do get more LAX gates, then LGB will probably be down to JFK/BOS.

    1. Also to keep in mind: the need for tails for the east coast is driven by the delay in NEO deliveries. They were expecting 14 airplanes this year. They got 5. It sped up everything in LGB.

  13. “As I understand it, crew bases are not being cut, so this just means a whole lot fewer hours are available for crews locally.“

    This is factually inaccurate. The same # of hours exist for the base to fly. Just because LGB reduces flying doesn’t mean there will be a reduction in flight hours for anyone in the base. During trip construction, the company can simply use LGB crews in other areas to cover flying from another base and then fly them back to LGB on the last day of the trip.

    1. Jay – I would suggest reading the next sentence, because that’s what I said.

      “As I understand it, crew bases are not being cut, so this just means a whole lot fewer hours are available for crews locally. They can expect a lot more flying into the east coast network to keep those numbers up. “

  14. Always bothered me that so many airlines fly to multiple small cities in an area, such as LBG in addition to LAX, ONT, etc. But NO SERVICE TO MIAMI, only FLL :(

  15. Brett, you obviously hate JetBlue for some reason and are itching to see them pull out. While I’m not their biggest fan, I prefer for there to be competition rather than having Southwest essentially dominate every airport in California that isn’t LAX or SFO.

    I bet the NIMBYs who blocked the customs facility at LGB are cheering this move, but they aren’t going to be so happy when Southwest backfills the capacity, which they inevitably will.

    As for JetBlue’s strategy, I see nothing wrong with it. There’s nothing wrong with a small operation. Hub and pull out are not the only two options. Reducing service can improve yields.

    1. I don’t think CF hates B6 but he has repeatedly noted that LGB was a squandered opportunity. LGB wasn’t happy w/ B6 in part because of B6′ own actions regarding the curfew.

      The bigger issue is that B6 tried to operate a niche mini-hub in a region where it was surrounded by much larger carriers at larger airports. B6 tried to overcome its lack of presence on the west coast with a small, niche position in a highly competitive CA market.

      B6 gambled w/a strategy that hasn’t worked for any other airline in any other market.

      They now have to shift 100% of their attention (after they clean up the last few non-hub LGB markets) and face that their three east coast hubs/focus cities are all seeing competitive growth.

  16. Let’s all clarify something – LGB DOES NOT have a curfew! That’s right, LGB is a 24 hour airport, Rwy 30 is open 24hours! Keep in mind, noise limits at 2200 change to an unreasonable 79db, which has been proven a Cessna 150 cannot meet the limit. So JetBlue has not been breaking curfew, they have been violating noise limits. Unlike SNA, LGB cannot force airline’s to go to an alternate after hours – it’s the airline’s decision.

    The problem was JetBlue violated the “spirit” of the Noise Ordinance. On more than one occasion, JB bussed passengers from SAN to LGB for a 0200 departure (SAN has a hard curfew for departures). It’s one thing to fly a LGB flight late (after 2200), but to divert another airport’s flight to LGB because of that airport’s curfew – that was blatant disregard for the LGB Noise Ordinance.

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Cranky Flier