JetBlue and American Put Plans in Motion

American, JetBlue

There’s been a lot of talk about the American and JetBlue Northeast Alliance, but until now we didn’t have anything concrete. Things got dicey last week when JetBlue’s pilots voted down an agreement that would open up everything JetBlue wanted to do with American, but just two days later… the plan began rolling out anyway. Today, we’re going to take a look at everything that was in both American’s and JetBlue’s press releases.

Codeshare flights are now on sale for travel beginning this week, and I talked about those yesterday. American has put its code on 49 JetBlue routes, and JetBlue has put its code on “more than 25” of American’s routes. The release notes that these are all “point to point” routes, but that is highly misleading. What it really means is that the codeshare is only on nonstop flights, no connections are sold yet. These aren’t actually point-to-point routes. They are routes the airlines already fly that touch a focus city/hub on at least one end.

AAdvantage members will be able to earn miles on codeshare flights operated by JetBlue, but that seems to be the extent of it for now. Eventually the plan is to have earning and burning of miles along with elite status perks. That should come relatively soon, at least the earning and burning part.

To me, what’s most interesting here is what this means for the networks. Both are planning to add a whole lot of flying… which means cuts must be buried elsewhere. I’ve gone and mapped these by airport using current schedules in Cirium for July 2021. The newly-announced routes are in green. Let’s start in the northeast and work our way southwest.

In Boston, JetBlue isn’t announcing any new routes. American, however, will do Asheville, Columbus (OH), Jackson Hole, Traverse City, and Wilmington (NC). Four of those are summer seasonal routes that fit into the “outdoorsy” leisure market plan that has been implemented elsewhere. The other, Columbus, is more of a businessy route. Columbus was a JetBlue destination, but it hasn’t been served for a few years. It was also served back in the heady days of the Ameria West Columbus hub.

Beyond new routes, they have already started working together on combining schedules to create more coverage. From Boston, the airlines will combine to offer service to the three New York airports (combined) every other hour. They’ll offer “close to hourly” service down to Washington/National and 22x daily to South Florida airports operating “more than hourly.”

This summer, the plan is to also “optimize” flights to LA and Chicago.

Heading down to JFK, it’s a more interesting story, at least for American. On the JetBlue side, they’re just adding Kalispell and Boise for the summer. Those again fit into the summer, outdoorsy type of route that so many airlines love this year.

On the American side, we already knew about Athens and Tel Aviv, but now there are several routes pointing south coming into the mix. American will add a trio of Colombian cities: Bogotá, Cali, and Medellín. We discussed this as length in this week’s Cranky Network Weekly. Santiago will also join the map, going daily by fall. St Lucia and Turks and Caicos will come online too, but that’s Saturday-only service to complement the existing JetBlue flying. JetBlue also serves Bogotá. Together, they really look to be making a move on Colombia, further hurting Avianca’s position.

I have no internal knowledge, but I like this build-up in Colombia. Even better if this could pressure Avianca to come over to your side and away from United. That would be a pretty slick move, albeit a longshot.

Lastly, American will fly JFK to Orange County using the A321T aircraft. I’m guessing this is a route American would have liked to fly before, but it was fully utilizing its A321T fleet. Now with fewer frequencies, it can take a shot at Orange County. It’s only a redeye eastbound, however, so I’m skeptical.

In the world of “route optimization,” LA will combine to offer hourly service while South Florida will be blanketed with 47 daily flights. San Francisco, Atlanta, Dallas/Fort Worth, Chicago/O’Hare, and Raleigh/Durham are coming this summer.

Over at LaGuardia, we see both airlines adding flights. JetBlue will take on the competitive Denver route as well as Charleston, a market American serves too. I figure Denver may be better for VFR and leisure in this network, so a JetBlue airplane is preferable. Charleston, well, I’m really curious to see what happens there. That could be about bulking up to compete since American only serves it on weekends. So maybe it fits into the same leisure bucket.

Over at American, look at all these new routes. We have Kansas City, Key West, Myrtle Beach, Pensacola, Rapid City, and Savannah joining the map. These seem to be mostly leisure routes, except for Kansas City. And Kansas City, no surprise, is the only one planned to operate year-round.

I find myself very curious about the future state of American’s existing flights in these markets. Many of these are only running in the summer, so the already depressed schedule won’t need to be cut. But eventually this won’t work without cuts elsewhere. I can only assume that the current plan is to take a wait-and-see approach and evaluate this summer’s performance before deciding what other routes don’t end up coming back to pre-pandemic levels. There are a lot of moving parts here.

Lastly, there’s Newark. I wasn’t even going to bother with this until I saw the incredible number of additions from JetBlue. It’s almost entirely Caribbean as you can see on the map, but there’s also Cartagena in Colombia and Seattle.

The growth JetBlue has undertaken in Newark since the pandemic began is nothing short of madness. Whether that’s good madness or bad madness, I’m not quite sure yet. But what I do know is that whenever United decides it wants to run a full schedule in Newark again, things are going to get very ugly. The airport can’t handle this kind of volume, so something’s gotta give.

In the meantime, American and JetBlue are busy putting together one impressive blanket over Boston and New York. The networks look good, but the key is in the integration. There are a lot of obstacles, including the pilots at JetBlue who are pretty unhappy right now. If they can pull this off, then it will create a powerhouse in the northeast. If not, well, what a waste of an effort that’ll be.

73 comments on “JetBlue and American Put Plans in Motion

  1. AA and B6 are doing a slow (very slow) dance toward a full out merger a few years down the road. These two airlines burn the most cash among the Big 6 and have done that through adding, rather than reducing service, for the most part, bucking the trend at UA and DL. They have complimentary fleets and route maps. B6’s growth at EWR is simply crazy and as you correctly point out, something will give when UA ramps back up. EWR cannot handle traffic well on a bright, cloudless, sunny day. All the extra flights B6 has added overlaps a lot with UA’s footprint and while it will help make EWR more affordable to fly out of in the short run, it will lead to tarmac delays and corridor congestion when things ramp back to near pre-pandemic levels.

    The JFK-SNA route has been tried several times before, and failed. My guess is that AA saw opportunity with LGB gone for good and needs places to fly the 321T’s as LAX and SFO will ramp back up slowly. AA flew SNA from JFK using 757s in the mid-2000s and it flopped. DL tried it with the 73G and it too struggled, though some say it was due to slot allocation. I don’t buy that.

    The Colombia adds will definitely put pressure on Avianca, but both AA and DL have tried the market before from JFK, though admittedly in the more distant past (AA in the early 1990s and DL in the post-2007 ramp up). The market is different now and the A319s AA will use are likely the right planes for the market compared to the 767 and 757 that was used previously. Time will tell. If this skews heavy leisure and seasonal, they will be clipped as the departures are PM rush and therefore on valued slot times.

    The AA/B6 partnership is a good move overall to balance DL and UA but some of it is overly optimistic. B6 is essentially a transcon, Florida, Caribbean airline. The map is full of holes in the middle part of the US where demographic shifts are occurring quickly and it needs AA to shore those up. B6 will be a bit player on TATL and find itself in a fare war with the likes of UA, DL, and likely AA plus the European giants as things normalize.

    1. I’m with you. Even pre-COVID I thought a merger with B6 was the best way for AA to return to relevance in NYC. I expect a “car wash” type bankruptcy for both carriers will result in a combined carrier.

      Cranky – CMH is a crew and maintenance base for Republic. The BOS service is probably marginal for AA, but it gets 175s and crews into the east coast network easily.

  2. Thank you, CF.
    Have to agree with your Madness comment on EWR.

    AA has been pulling back at EWR for years, offering very little to B6 to partner with. And the AA/B6 combination offers nothing in terms of connectivity and critical mass at EWR with the new partnership..

    When UA re-energizes EWR they are sure to be schedule and price competitive, with the added enormous advantage of connectivity to every frequency.

    Madness on Jetblue’s part for sure.

    1. “When UA re-energizes EWR they are sure to be schedule and price competitive, with the added enormous advantage of connectivity to every frequency.”

      That’s assuming UA is willing to ramp up at EWR again after what transpired over the past year. Most likely they will, but now B6 has filled some of the void left behind & can they build back to a pre CV size there. Of course UA can reroute service via IAD if they so choose, but it’s not the same functionally as EWR is & everyone knows it.

    2. The B6 expansion at EWR has nothing to do with AA’s footprint at EWR, which is very much limited to CLT, ORD, MIA, DFW, PHX (when it runs again), and not a whole lot more and does not need to be significant for B6 to function there. B6 has grown at EWR because right now it can, but EWR can’t handle all the added traffic once UA restores the bulk of its pre-pandemic schedule. Newark Liberty is constrained on the ground, in the air, and the corridors into and out of it. Pre-pandemic, it was one of the most expensive NY Area airports because of UA’s lock on it. EWR was transformed for UA from a connecting hub to a massive O&D station, though connections were still relevant and important (for specific markets) and that will end up returning eventually.

      UA will retaliate and likely overwhelm B6 at EWR and reduce JetBlue’s presence back to what it was pre-COVID, which is to say Florida/Caribbean with the transcons likely here to stay, notably if AS pulls out completely.

      1. EWR was one of the most expensive airports to operate in not because of United, but because of rates and charges galore from the Port Authority of NY and NJ.
        The extremely high costs are evident at their other two large airports, LGA and JFK, where UA has modest to non-existent operations.

  3. Certainly, Southwest is a loser here. They pulled out of EWR and are focusing their efforts at LGA. I’m sure they figured some LGA slots would become available due to American’s troubles, but I highly doubt they foresaw JetBlue pulling this off. So they are stuck with what they have, which is insufficient for a market of that size for a carrier of that size. Their only real NYC hope now is either the removal of slot restrictions at JFK or acquisition of another carrier, one with major operations at JFK, a hybrid code-share with AA at LGA, and “maddening” growth at EWR.

    Southwest aside, the biggest loser in all this is clearly Delta Airlines. Suddenly, Delta is fighting a 3-front war (BOS, LGA, and JFK) against a carrier with lower costs (JetBlue) and tremendous brand recognition in New York and Boston. Delta has spent years and untold amounts of money leveraging American’s LGA and JFK weaknesses, only to be out-smarted by JetBlue by literally the stroke of a pen. Delta has invested too much time, human capital, and financial capital in New York and Boston to shrivel. The upcoming Battle of The Northeast between AA/B6 versus Delta will be incredibly interesting to watch. Regardless, Delta is clearly on the defensive now. Their Florida growth and whatever they call RDU, AUS, BNA and SJC have been canceled/delayed/reduced. They are hiding behind Covid as their excuse for now. But, eventually, that dust will settle too. They had a wonderful opportunity to pay down debt and solidify their financial foundation following their merger with Northwest and their bankruptcy. Unfortunately, they squandered those considerable resources on stock buybacks and Joint Venture investments. If Delta had looked after the financial side of the business as well as they managed the operational side, they would be in a commanding position right now. But they failed (quite badly) in that regard and now the fight is on.

    1. How is Southwest the loser here? As you mentioned they barely had a presence in NYC, so they really have nothing to lose. Also, flying profitably is the key, not flying a route because it looks good on a route map.

      I would think DL has the POTENTIAL to lose the most at BOS. But JFK & LGA are slot controlled airports, so supply is somewhat controlled (could up gage aircraft).

      1. Well, Eric, I thought I explained that. They bailed on EWR. They have nothing at JFK. Even before Covid, they had reduced ISP to a shell of its former self. They put all their eggs in the LGA basket. They cobbled together enough LGA slots to run around 40 flights a day at their LGA peak. Don’t you think they want more LGA slots? Don’t you think they figured they would get more, perhaps a LOT more, from American? That’s off the table now. 40 flights a day in a 10-million population market when your 4 largest competitors have hundreds of flights a day from the three NY airports simply is insufficient, regardless of their profitability. To finish building out its domestic network, Southwest will need a larger New York presence.

        1. I’m sure Southwest wants more LGA slots, but not sure why you believed AA would relinquish any slots at a slot controlled airport without some type of reciprocal benefit like the partnership it created with JetBlue.

          Even if AA did decide to relinquish slots, I’m not sure why you believed these would fall in the lap of Southwest. Hence the reason why I made my initial comment.

          1. Okay. American had been slowly shrinking its LGA presence before Covid. If you remember, as part of the AA/US merger, US/AA sold a lot of slots to Delta at very advantageous prices for Delta. I wouldn’t describe it as a fire sale, but that isn’t too far off. And now Covid has really hurt AA in general and LGA in particular. It makes sense that AA might consider selling more LGA slots to raise operating capital or simply elect to sell more in a bankruptcy filing. With the JetBlue deal, neither of those are now likely.

            Consider Southwest now. They have shoe-horned their way into LGA any way they can, buying slots and gaining gates any way they can. In fact, I bet they wish they still had the LGA and DCA slots they obtained in the ATA deal, which they never used.

            So here we have a very motivated buyer on one hand and a possibly distressed seller on the other hand. What makes me believe Southwest would have ended up with American’s slots is that Southwest knows the only way it can grow its footprint in LGA is to buy more slots. As a result, I would think Southwest would out-bid any other carrier in a sale/fire sale/auction scenario. Southwest has always maintained it would not overpay for slots. But they also know that’s their only way to grow New York, short of acquiring another carrier.

            1. Actually it was a slot swap between US and DL in which US swapped LGA slots for DCA slots.

              Definitely not a fire sale, it allowed each carrier to solidify their dominant position at one of the airports instead of directly competing on numerous routes at both.

      1. Don’t see how that would work as most of the networks & hubs overlap each other.

        Some examples…

        UA @ ORD/ DL @ MSP & DTW
        UA @ DEN/ DL @SLC
        UA @ EWR/ DL@JFK & LGA
        UA & DL @ LAX

        There are a few areas where the hubs are far enough apart that it may not be a big deal, but may not be optimal for the network to function such as…

        UA @IAD/ DL @BOS
        UA @ IAH/ DL @ ATL

        The last one is the least problematic as both are in different time zones, but you want to avoid the short hop network as US once did for it’s network. Now of course Chicago & Detroit are in different time zones as well, but Detroit is westward just enough to make such flights short hops.

  4. Brett,

    First of all, thanks for your blog and insight into the industry. I’m curious where or maybe why you think cuts will need to be made with American. It seems to me a lot of the green (new routes) you illustrated in Boston and LaGuardia will be flown by their regional carrier Republic. Republic just lost 22 birds flying for Delta, but 16 of those are E170s will be retrofitted to offer 65 seats complying with American scope clause. That’s 16 planes of growth for American. Also, they (Republic) are gaining 6 additional E175s that were slated to go to Envoy that will be flying in the Northeast. It seems to me the loss of flying will actually come from Delta (oddly enough) to comply with their scope clause for not having a flow down to Compass (since they are no longer in business).

    1. Anonymous – Cuts have to be made, because American only has so many slots it can use at LaGuardia. With some slots expected to go to JetBlue and the airline operating them fully before the pandemic, something has to give.
      Clearly they can reduce frequencies in some markets if needed, but we just have no idea what that will look like.

  5. Cranky – a request for a clarification, as I am myself uncertain: your LGA map for American shows Aruba, Rapid City, Jackson Hole, Bozeman and Glacier Park. I think Rapid City falls just inside the LGA 1,500 mile Sunday-through-Friday perimeter rule, but are all those other cities therefore just Saturday service only? Meaning not just seasonal, but also once a week? Just wondering. (Denver is grandfathered into the LGA perimeter, so that one on the jetBlue map is at least clear.) Many thanks!

    1. LGA to Rapid City is 1,502 miles, just outside of the perimeter, so it’s operating Saturday-only.

      LGA to AUA, JAC, BZN, and FCA are all Saturday-only.

  6. Looking at JetBlue’s Caribbean schedule, I think back to the days when AA owned that market after the a Trans Carib acquisition in the early 70’s. AA pretty ruthlessly used that dominance to “influence” their position with NYC travel agencies (“You want those seats to Aruba at Christmas? You’d better give me you transcon business, or you’re outta luck.”). The introduction Sabre only gave them further leverage, which lasted into the early 90’s.
    Peter Dolara and Chris Peterson are probably rolling over in their graves.

  7. I’m still very curious how this will impact AA financially. While impressive looking on a route map, I’m curious how to see how financially beneficial this is to AA without some type of revenue share agreement.

  8. On the BOS front, the combination essentially brings the service back to the level the dominant player had before Covid (AA at LGA, PHL, and DCA; B6 at JFK and EWR). Creates a lot of opportunity for expansion as a result at LGA and DCA.

  9. I’m interested to see how JetBlues labor issues pan out. Their pilots voted down a TA that would have allowed focus city to focus city, and focus city to international destination codeshares as both are currently forbidden in their CBA. JetBlue’s response to this has been to do it anyway. Regardless of how arbitration turns out, the pilots won’t be happy.

    1. The fact that the B6 pilots aren’t on-board with this present a host of potential issues. As B6 pilots see those AA 777s and 787s push back from the gates at JFK, they’re going to see their TATL dreams go with them. And if this is a precursor to an AA/B6, the B6 pilots know they’ll get screwed when the pilot list integration occurs, especially given how much more senior the AA pilots are. I think this deal makes all the sense in the world for AA but I think it presents substantial risk if you are a B6 pilot.

      1. Chris – I don’t expect that’s the case. JetBlue is a lower cost provider than American, and with the A321LR, JetBlue will be poised to provide important service. Remember, American has nothing smaller than the 787 that can do Transatlantic anymore. It will eventually get the A321XLR, but that’s down the line and it’ll still be a higher cost provider. So sure, American might do better on the important, trunk, business-focused routes with widebodies, but JetBlue has huge opportunity to use those airplanes all over.

        To me, the pilot vote is more a referendum on management and not trusting the team leading the airline to do what’s right.

  10. EWR is a great opportunity for JetBlue. Pre-COVID, it was constrained to the point where FAA stopped allowing new flights to be added during peak hours. While EWR routes often performed really well, they were constrained in how much they could add. Since COVID, EWR demand has come back far more than LGA and JFK. B6 has been adding to EWR because the routes are outperforming LGA and even JFK in some cases. LGA is a basket case. Imo, this shift in demand between NYC airport is permanent. JetBlue is facing a choice of priorities among NYC airports. It has now repeatedly revised up the project size for is future EWR operation. I think it’s still deliberating understating its ambitions in EWR to not further alarm UA. The reality is that EWR is essentially a slot constrained airport without “slots”. The more airlines like JetBlue and Spirit add, the less that UA and other airlines will be able to bring back. UA peak at over 400 flights a day at EWR pre-COVID. If JetBlue can expand from 30 flights pre-COVID to 130 post-COVID, that would permanently drop UA’s operation to 350 flights or less.

    JetBlue’s future in EWR is really dependent on how many gates it can obtain in the new T-1 and how aggressively it approaches adding flight there vs LGA/JFK/BOS. These are the kind of tough choices that airlines need to make during times like this that can dictate the future of the airlines. You can see that AA doesn’t particularly care for EWR. It didn’t even put codeshares on JetBlue flights out of there. I think that’s for good reasons. A strong JetBlue operation in EWR will not only hurt UA, but also AA’s PHL hub. So, EWR appears to be something that JetBlue management pushed for.

    As I’ve said before, NYC has gone through a major change during COVID time. People are going to be working closer to home. Imo, LGA has lost its position as the most preferred airport in NYC. AA/B6 will have a hard time utilizing all of their LGA slots even with all the new routes they added. DL is going to have a hard time utilizing its slots. I’m not sure AA has really caught onto this yet. It looks like JetBlue maybe slowly realizing this.

    The big question is if JetBlue will add routes like EWR-ORD/DEN/BNA/SLC. Adding those routes and connecting missing dots will get them to over 100 flights a day and put them in the same position in EWR as they were in JFK pre-COVID.

  11. But overall, I would still say the biggest loser here is Delta. A combined operation of AA/B6 at BOS means that both of them will pick up ff at the expense of other airline. DL’s only play for success pre-COVID was as the only network carrier that tried to offer a real network out of BOS. That means they could pick up any of the ff that did not want to commit to B6 due to lack of national network and IRROPS options. They don’t have that now.

    DL’s biggest loss is in NYC. They were on their way to total dominance in NYC pre-COVID. A lot of people simply didn’t want to fly out of EWR or fly on UA. Now, those people have a legitimate option to move on to. And the shift in demand from LGA to EWR hurts DL more than anyone else.

    I don’t know how long slot waivers will go on for. It will be interesting to see how DL tries to utilize those LGA slots when business demand remains well under 50% of pre-COVID level by year end.

  12. FC – LaGuardia is NOT solely a “CBD-oriented” airport. Again, I think you overstate any extent to which LGA may lose “importance” in the region, short-term trends notwithstanding, particularly once mass vaccinations are achieved. The characteristics of the typical LGA user may alter somewhat, but the facility will certainly not be any less important. I feel this is because:

    • Both overall population and business locations are not decentralizing nearly as much as people think they are – and they likely (in my opinion) won’t in the long-term, post-vaccine. Most people that moved out of Manhattan went to – wait for it – Brooklyn. Another borough, and one which is still closer to LGA than most people realize, especially compared with EWR. Will there be some changes? Yes. Enough to likely alter the overall market share (and remember – in terms of O&D passengers, not total enplanements – already in normal times EWR and LGA are much closer in terms of O&D passengers than most people realize) of each of the three major New York City metropolitan area airports? Likely not in any significant manner.

    1. • Traffic congestion throughout the region is such that LaGuardia will still be significantly closer (in terms of travel time) to Westchester and Connecticut than either JFK or EWR. So, even with some measurable “decentralization”, LGA will still have some geographic advantages, particularly to certain parts of the region, and particularly for flights whose stage lengths are relatively short and ground travel time needs to be minimized.

      • The new EWR Terminal 1 – while a great improvement in terms of the passenger environment – actually has fewer gates than Terminal A (which will be demolished), as I understand it, resulting in a net loss of contact gates at EWR. Terminal A has 35 gates, while Terminal 1 will have 33. Not a huge decline, so let’s just say it’s “a wash”. The Terminal B reconstruction at LGA similarly is a great improvement in terms of the passenger environment and also has the same number of contact gates as the old terminal it is replacing. However, the new Delta Terminal C – again, as I understand it – provides additional contact gates relative to Terminals C and D, which it is replacing. So – in terms of relative importance – I would not say the new Terminal 1 provides a specific competitive advantage to EWR over LGA.

      1. • Finally, it should be kept in mind that the PATH extension to EWR would go only as far as the Northeast Corridor rail connection station at EWR – riders would still need to transfer the EWR AirTrain for access to the terminals. While an improvement in available options, I feel it does not provide any overly significant advantage to EWR relative to the connections provided by the similarly proposed LGA AirTrain, which will connect with both the subway’s Flushing Line and the Long Island Rail Road’s Port Washington Branch at Willets Point. The connection with the Port Washington Branch is key, as – with the soon-to-be-completed East Side Access project – LIRR riders will be able to access either the west side (Penn Station) or the east side (Grand Central) of Midtown. So, again – I would not say the new PATH extension provides a specific competitive advantage to EWR over LGA.

        As always, just my thoughts!

        1. Hi Eastern 727 Whisperjet,

          Not only are Manhattanites headed to Brooklyn, many have also moved to Hoboken, Jersey City & now they have also started moving to Newark itself. You can tell as Whole Foods has come into the city. But of course people have also relocated to the more traditional communities such as Ridgewood, Morristown, Milburn & those along the shore. Towns along the LI sound through Westchester & Fairfield Counties have also been active as of late pushing real estate prices up & in some cases way up.

          1. Folks always talk about LGA only as it relates to Manhattan, forgetting that there are millions of residents in Brooklyn, and northern and eastern Queens, as well as the north shore of Nassau County. All of which are closer and more convenient to LGA than JFK.

    2. Terminal A at EWR had 29 gates pre-COVID and fewer than that are now used during COVID time and since WN left. 33 gates will give them a nice little growth in that category. Long term, T-1 is expandable to 45, but EWR will be “slot” constrained before then. I’m not sure why you are mentioning LGA gate count, since LGA is slot constrained and not gate constrained. Gate constraint is only an issue in EWR for airlines that were so smaller pre-COVID and looking to expand now. That would be B6 and NK. So again, how many gates B6 gets in new T-1 is actually a big deal. If I were B6, I would swap 20 slots + 4 gates at JFK for 4 gates at EWR with UA. But I don’t think AA will like that.

      pre-COVID, LGA actually attracted quite a lot of traffic from people that live in NJ but work out of Manhattan. And same with people that lived in Westchester and CT. Post-COVID, those people are going to be working from home more often and also out of NJ satellite office. Those people are now going to fly out of EWR almost exclusively. Can you believe that companies are going to start telling their employees that live right across hudson at Hobokken and Jersey City to work out of the NJ office instead of financial district? Well, they are going to start doing that to reduce their office rental cost and taxes.

      The people that live in westchester/CT/Long island are also going to be able to work closer to home. JFK is obviously going to be more attractive to people that work out of Long Island and Brooklyn. It’s also competitive with LGA for those that live/work out of Westchester and CT.

      So just based on WFH and adding multiple satellite offices, there will be a notable shift in demand.

      Aside from that, the question is whether or not you will see a shift in people that work in financial district. Even pre-COVID, the commute time to EWR/LGA is about the same from lower Manhattan. With the PATH extension to T-2 and improved pick-up/drop off at terminal 1, that might move things in EWR’s favor. Also, having an additional real competitor at EWR will make it more attractive than being known as the UA airport.

      1. “Can you believe that companies are going to start telling their employees that live right across hudson at Hobokken and Jersey City to work out of the NJ office instead of financial district? Well, they are going to start doing that to reduce their office rental cost and taxes.

        The people that live in westchester/CT/Long island are also going to be able to work closer to home. JFK is obviously going to be more attractive to people that work out of Long Island and Brooklyn. It’s also competitive with LGA for those that live/work out of Westchester and CT.”

        In the case of Hoboken, commuting to Jersey City is the same as lower Manhattan as the time is almost nothing. that is why the real estate market has been on fire the last 15-years or so . Trust me – I’ve been there enough times in the past 3-years & have visited numerous open houses & have spoken to numerous agents on my travels & all are amazed on the growth. All agree that the city isn’t reverting too what it once was as too much time & money has been invested to let it fall back.

        Westchester has had a strong office market, but it is not fortune 500 centric as it once was as numerous office parks along the I-287 corridor become targets for redevelopment such as the northern half of Corporate Park Drive where one property was turned into rental housing & the site next to it received the same treatment. At the end of the block a 121,000 Sq Ft Wegman’s supermarket opened last year.

      2. FC and Sean – Please don’t misunderstand me – I think EWR, LGA and JFK will indeed see some shifts, but I simply don’t think post-vaccine it will be so significant that the “relative” importance of each will shift appreciably or to a very significant extent.

        I don’t think a permanent shift to a “WFH-on-selected-days” environment means that the importance of LGA is diminished appreciably, as – again – plenty of folks work from home east-of-the-Hudson and will continue to do so, as well as continue to work in the CBD (Manhattan residential sales were their highest last month sine 2014, I believe, and as I mentioned earlier many moved to Brooklyn or Queens – not just Hoboken, Jersey City or the New Jersey suburbs). Any shift to suburban areas simply won’t happen solely towards the New Jersey suburbs, but yes – there will be shifts. But LGA will still remain the closest airport to quite a bit of the northern and eastern suburbs – there is just no way that JFK is as time-competitive to reach from Stamford, given the linear parking lot that is the Van Wyck, and especially if your flight is only a hop over to PIT or ORD. And the transit connections to LGA should the AirTrain actually be built are on par with those to EWR and/or JFK, as I mentioned above.

        In addition, there are some “X” factors at play – if the perimeter rule at LGA is lifted (as it should be), then the dynamics would really be altered. perhaps significantly, in favor of LGA. (I only bring up gate capacity as a surrogate for overall passenger comfort/modern facilities – you are correct about slot restrictions in any event – but the new LGA terminals would certainly lend an argument to abolishing the perimeter rule.)

        Finally – what I call the “PHL factor”. As you head into the New Jersey suburbs towards Princeton, PHL starts to be within reasonable driving distance. Sometimes, PHL is closer to Trenton and maybe even Princeton (via the Walt Whitman Bridge) than EWR time-wise, especially if U.S. 1 and the Turnpike are slammed. As PHL continues to grow, people from the central New Jersey suburbs may opt for a flight from there, if they can get a competitive fare. As you head north and east from LGA, the next airport of appreciable size is Bradley in Hartford – much farther than PHL is from EWR. (HPN and Stewart simply don’t factor in, really.) So I think the idea that PHL would start to at least take some traffic from EWR is one to consider.

        Thanks all – an interesting discussion!

        1. Oh, no worries. Just adding my knowledge to round off the picture

          “In addition, there are some “X” factors at play – if the perimeter rule at LGA is lifted (as it should be), then the dynamics would really be altered.”

          Agreed on all accounts.

        2. The perimeter rule was instituted to protect JFK. It has nothing to do with the size of LGA terminals. I’m not sure why they would lift the perimeter rule now.

          You seem to ignore my point that EWR was bleeding traffic to LGA due to large number of people leaving from work for the airport. If their offices are in NJ, that simply won’t happen anymore. Offices moving from Manhattan to Brooklyn and Queens also hurt LGA, since JFK will be the preferred airport. Most corporations will keep offices in Manhattan, but it remains to be seen how large those offices are vs pre-COVID.

          If PATH extension gets built, EWR will be far and away the most convenient airport to get to from lower and midtown Manhattan by public transit. Do you think people want to take the 7 train all the way to citi field and then hop on to PATH? LGA airtrain as currently proposed is a terrible idea. It will be faster to take E train + airtrain to JFK than that.

          EWR is already the quickest airport to get to by car from lower manhattan. You add in the more space for pick up and drop off, this new Terminal 1 could be a real winner.

          The strike against EWR was always the lack of option aside from UA. If you have another carrier that can compete with them domestically in terms of network, it will be a huge game changer for EWR. The more competition you have at EWR, the more traffic it will draw away from PHL. PHL has a lot of competition to Florida, but not elsewhere. There is a reason AA is not helping out B6 out at EWR.

          We will see how the recovery look like. Right now, there is simply no demand to LGA. Airlines are still treating LGA like a pot of gold. It takes a lot of courage for airlines to break out of mold and accept changes in market dynamics.

          1. FC – Let me give you my take on each of your points (all good ones, by the way – I am really enjoying this discussion):

            PERIMETER RULE: The new LGA terminals have been cited as being a reason for lifting the perimeter rule, as they now have:

            (a) holdrooms that can more comfortably accommodate larger numbers of passengers associated with A321s or similarly sized aircraft that would be used on lengthier segments; and

            (b) longer curbfronts as well, allowing for more comfortable pick-up/drop-off activity at the curbfront. The old Terminal B (in particular) barely had holdrooms at the gates, being designed in an era when you would walk over from the central restaurant and stroll to your flight only when they called it. Ah, the good old days…

          2. WORK-BASED TRAVEL: My apologies – I wasn’t intending to ignore your point about office-as-an-origin-location-based travel – I’m just not certain that it is really all that much of a factor, as depending on the trip/client, I can count on one hand the times I left from or returned to my office – and I have been a frequent flyer for 25+ years! To be frank, most office-based travel occurs when using Amtrak, as Penn Station is close to my office location.

            I honestly think to infer some kind of grand demise of LGA because of some pandemic-era aviation travel reopening numbers or because some folks may leave from an office in New Jersey and instead use EWR is a bit of an ambitious stretch – after all, as you already pointed out, they are now just as likely to leave from home, and plenty of people live east-of-the-Hudson whose offices are in New Jersey as well, and there will still be plenty of offices in Midtown Manhattan!

            Next, not all offices moved to New Jersey, obviously, and any offices in the Garden State essentially north of the George Washington Bridge (e.g., in the Englewood Cliffs corporate corridor along U.S. Route 9W) are still closer to LGA timewise than EWR on most days.

            In addition, offices that move to Brooklyn or Queens won’t automatically mean that JFK is the “preferred airport” – there are significant portions of each of those boroughs (particularly the business districts of Queens) which remain closer/as close to LGA (e.g., Long Island City), and LGA’s service to key domestic destinations is frankly sometimes more frequent than JFK’s. That would also be impacted should the perimeter rule be lifted – LGA becomes more attractive for an LAX or SFO trip, and SYR or ROC or ALB is likely sacrificed, with international feeders only to JFK or EWR.

            Finally, as to Manhattan office sizes – yes, they may be smaller post-COVID, but that would also be true of any offices scattered about the region, or in other cities. It doesn’t intrinsically give EWR (or JFK) a “leg-up” on LGA, as I have (hopefully) demonstrated that LGA is still well-located and not solely an airport oriented to the business traveler. Manhattan’s economy is not solely dependent on a business monoculture, as we’ve discussed before on this blog’s comments board, I believe. Like Orlando and Las Vegas, the tourism market will (eventually) return to New York City post-vaccine. (Who doesn’t visit London or Paris because of the latest cholera outbreak, after all?) LGA will still – in those cases – be the closest airport to Manhattan.

            1. There are a lot of people that live in NJ that fly out of LGA due to where they work from. I have to say that your comments don’t indicate a great appreciation of dynamics of ff West of Hudson. There is no movement toward lifting perimeter. That’s not in the discussion anywhere.

              I think you have misconception of what’s going on based on that last paragraph. Previously, companies have 1 large office in Manhattan. Now, these companies have 1 smaller office in Manhattan + similar sized offices in NJ, Westchester and Long Island. Companies are opening offices closer to where their employees want to be. We are going to a more decentralized office approach. This is going to hurt the demand out of LGA big time.

  13. I hope jetBlue and its pilots work out an agreement both parties can live with. Fear often motivates people into doing things that are against their long-term best interests. I realize scope is important to labor groups. When I was in college in Chicago, I had to have a union electrician plug a tape recorder into the wall outlet at a city-owned facility because of union scope clauses, even though I was perfectly capable of plugging in the tape recorder myself, but I digress…

    American and jetBlue aren’t as competitive individually in New York and Boston as they are combined. This arrangement merely levels the playing field with Delta and United in the New York metropolitan area. Even without the cooperation of the pilots, there are ways to implement a large part of this plan. But it won’t be as effective, and I hope it doesn’t come to that. There are ways around some of the scope limitations. One I mentioned yesterday is the use of slot swaps instead of codeshares. But that’s a band-aid. Codeshares are the better option. In my opinion, the limit on international codeshares in jetBlue’s scope clause is just as short-sighted as requiring a union electrician to plug in a tape recorder. It’s overkill. I suggested a compromise yesterday where jetBlue could handle all the narrowbody flying out of New York and Boston while American would be limited to operating widebodies. American can use Philadelphia, Charlotte, and Miami launch points for narrowbody TATL flying and it has a lot more feed in all of those cities.

    I can understand some of the restrictions on focus city to focus city flying (New York to Boston, and New York/Boston to Fort Lauderdale/Orlando?), both from a scope and anti-trust perspective. But schedulers and yield managers can work around most of those restrictions with or without the pilots’ approval. One simple compromise could be to freeze capacity levels where they are for the time being and reexamine them in a year or so. New York to Boston has a lot of competition, including Amtrak. New York to Florida is also very competitive. If history has shown the industry one thing it’s that flooding routes with excess capacity is a sure way to the poor house.

    The bottom line is to find a way for all parties to reach agreements they can live with so they can realize the full potential of this arrangement.

    1. Chicago mastered the power of unions long ago. I remember coordinating my small company’s move into a new office downtown one day. We made the mistake of using a non-union moving company. Unbeknownst to us, the loading dock workers were union. As a result (no joke), we had to hire union workers to take the boxes off the non-union truck, move to the union loading dock and the union loading dock workers could move the boxes to the service elevator.

      You truly can’t make this stuff up. Despite all that, I still love this city.

    2. The pilots’ problem with the NEA wasn’t that the pilots wanted to keep plugging in the tape recorder. JetBlue signed an agreement with American last summer that they knew would violate the pilots’ contract. They kept that fact under wraps for six months while they tried to work out something behind the scenes with the union to make their pending breach of contract retroactively legitimate. The result of these negotiations was a proposed scope amendment so broad, it would allow for up to 12 years of American and American Eagle flying JetBlue passengers on routes that JetBlue was already capable of flying. There were some protections built in, but none of them were enforceable for 4 years at the earliest. Attempts to pin down the company on its intentions for such broad language were met with basically, we have no plans to abuse it so don’t worry.

      The day after the pilots narrowly turned down the contract amendment, either on the grounds of the scope waiver being too broad or too long or that JetBlue didn’t offer enough in return for such a vast concession, the company essentially confirmed the fears of the pilot group by explicitly violating the existing contract and going ahead with the exact same code shares they tried to get a waiver for.

      This forces the issue to binding arbitration, which nobody wanted, with an outcome nobody wants. Either the arbitrator signs off on the company deliberately violating the most essential part of the contract (essentially gutting the entire contract not just for us, but for all airline labor contracts) or they order the company to cease and desist (which breaks their agreement with American, invoking substantial penalties). The “best” outcome would be to come to an agreement before arbitration, but that has it’s own issue: how do you trust an entity to follow anything they sign when they just got through breaking their prior agreement with you? To say that the pilots now wouldn’t trust JetBlue to give them the time of day truthfully is an understatement.

      1. Thanks for the clarification. I don’t know all of the details of the contracts, either between jetBlue and its pilots, or American and jetBlue. In any event, I still think the best path is to find an agreement both sides can live with. If it’s fair and equitable to everyone concerned, it stands a better chance to be honored by both sides. Knowing that there are two sides to every negotiation (and I was involved in many during my career), it won’t surprise me to learn that the pilots weren’t completely honest with the airline. Both sides tend to hold back hoping for a better outcome. That’s human nature.

  14. PATH EXTENSION: I think you misunderstand what the PATH connection will do for EWR. The PATH extension to EWR would go only as far as the Northeast Corridor rail connection station at EWR – riders would still need to transfer the EWR AirTrain for access to the terminals. Let’s look at the transit (i.e., rail transit) pictures from Lower Manhattan and Midtown Manhattan for the three main New York City-area airports:

    From Lower Manhattan, that would still mean a 2-seat ride, at minimum, to reach EWR (PATH-EWR AirTrain), which is the same as the current 2-seat ride to JFK (express subway to either Howard Beach on the A train or Sutphin Boulevard/Archer Avenue/JFK Airport on the E train-JFK AirTrain) from Lower Manhattan. That does not in any way make EWR “far and away the most convenient” airport via public transit from Lower Manhattan, it just puts it on par with JFK. (But you are correct that EWR will be easier to get to from Lower Manhattan than LGA on transit – but it would not be “the most convenient”, as for the reasons cited above regarding JFK access.)

    From Midtown Manhattan, that would still mean a 2-seat ride, at minimum, to reach EWR (NJ Transit-EWR AirTrain), and has nothing whatsoever to do with the PATH extension. In fact, the PATH extension does nothing for Midtown travelers at all, as it will require a transfer on PATH (at Journal Square) to reach the Northeast Corridor rail connection station at EWR, where you still need to transfer to the EWR AirTrain – thus, from Midtown Manhattan using the new PATH extension it is still a 3-seat ride (PATH-transfer at Journal Square-PATH-EWR AirTrain)!

    For JFK, you currently have the 2-seat ride via the subway-to-JFK AirTrain (again, via either the A to Howard Beach or the E to Sutphin Boulevard/Archer Avenue/JFK Airport) or a 2-seat ride via the LIRR from Penn Station to Jamaica, with a transfer there to the JFK AirTrain. Again, EWR is not “far and away the most convenient” – rather, even with the PATH extension it is actually less convenient than or (at best) on par with JFK in the future.

    In the near future, JFK access will be even better/”more convenient” via transit from Midtown, as when East Side Access opens and brings the LIRR to Grand Central, you will have a choice of leaving for JFK via a 2-seat LIRR ride from either the west side (Penn Station) or the east side (Grand Central) – for EWR, a 2-seat NJ Transit ride will still only be obtainable from the west side at Penn Station.

    1. Finally, from Midtown Manhattan, the trip to LGA via the connections provided by the proposed (as the PATH extension is also proposed) LGA AirTrain, which will connect with both the subway’s Flushing Line and the Long Island Rail Road’s Port Washington Branch at Willets Point, will give LGA a 2-seat transit ride from either side of Midtown – hence, EWR will be actually less convenient to reach via transit from Midtown than LGA, as a 2-seat NJ Transit ride will still only be obtainable from the west side at Penn Station. The connection with the Port Washington Branch is key, as – with the soon-to-be-completed East Side Access project – LIRR riders will be able to access either the west side (Penn Station) or the east side (Grand Central) of Midtown. Despite some of the pushback about the LGA AirTrain, its ability to connect with both the LIRR and the Flushing Line (thus providing service to Long Island City and Flushing) is a positive.

      So, again – I would definitely not say the new PATH extension makes EWR “far and away the most convenient” airport from Midtown or Lower Manhattan!

      1. LOWER MANHATTAN AND EWR TERMINAL 1: Let’s agree to disagree – I just don’t think EWR T1’s curbfront space and automobile access from Lower Manhattan makes it a significant “LGA-killer”. Terminal A’s weakness was certainly not the pick-up/drop-off areas at the curb – in fact, before 9/11 restrictions and before the paranoia regarding IEDs in vehicles, all the Terminal A-B-C curbfronts and under-the-terminal-lobby short term parking areas were fantastic, and that did not kill LGA then!

        PHL: Perhaps – all I can say is that I hear frequently enough from folks roughly from Princeton and points south that PHL is a factor for them. Between American, Southwest and the occasional flight to Europe, it is “in play” and offers an option. There is no similar option even remotely that big north and east of LGA until maybe – maybe – Bradley. One might even say Providence or Logan! Remember – New Haven is about the distance from LGA that PHL is from EWR, and New Haven is definitely part of the LGA travelshed.

        RECOVERY: Fear not, once things return to some semblance of “normal”, LGA will still be a key player. Things will shift, yes – but not so much that it will change the entire “market dynamic” – that will only happen with the abolishing of the perimeter rule!

      2. Eastern 727 – This is a great discussion. On the LGA train, have they discussed travel times yet? I know if you’re on the subway it’s a lot slower than taking NJ Transit. Also, it overshoots LGA before you take the AirTrain back, right? I’m not a pro on NYC geography here, so I’m just backing into what I know. I guess my point is that a 2 seat train or a 3 seat train sucks either way if you have bags. If the 3 seat train is quicker to EWR than the 2 seat is to LGA, that would probably still be ok.
        But then again, since we’re not talking about the west side, I imagine LGA should still be quicker even with the inefficiency.

        1. Cranky – The LGA AirTrain plan is far from perfect, but I suppose we can’t always let the perfect be the enemy of the good. The plan is for an “AirTrain” like JFK’s (i.e., not a small monorail as at EWR currently, although they are planning to replace EWR’s eventually) to travel between the airport (Terminal B and Terminal C – there is no plan to connect with the 6-gate Terminal A/Marine Air Terminal using AirTrain) and the currently-named Mets-Willets Point station area, where a large new complex would be built connecting the AirTrain, the 7 train (Flushing Line) and the LIRR station there (i.e., on the Port Washington Branch that serves CitiField and the National Tennis Center during special events, but it would become a full time station).

          In terms of geography – yes, it involves going east of LGA a bit. That’s what makes it not the best plan, but the fact remains that is the only alignment they currently have that doesn’t involve inordinate property taking, apparently, nor a death match with NIMBYs like the old Astoria Line subway extension proposal did. But in terms of travel time, it would in all likelihood present a fairly reliable trip to LGA free of traffic. The numbers I have heard is that from either Penn or Grand Central the total travel time to the LGA terminal complex would be about 30 minutes – consistently. That would be via the LIRR (which will also serve Grand Central in a couple of years). The 7 train does have peak period express service on it as well, but that connection will likely be used mainly by people going to Long Island City, budget-minded travelers and by employees/flight crews, many of whom live nearby in Queens. There is also talk that things like a CONRAC and a kiss-and-fly drop-off/pick-up area may eventually be located at Willets Point, removing those functions from the terminal curbfronts.

          My take is LGA AirTrain may eventually prove more useful than people imagine right now, me included sometimes!

          And yes – transferring with luggage stinks, but if the transfers are minimized and made as easy as possible it’s not awful if you just have a shoulder bag for rolling bag for a few days’ travel. And the 2 seat ride will always be seen as more convenient over a 3-seat ride, and most times it will be faster too!

        2. As far as Midtown, I have personally found NJ Transit from Penn to EWR very convenient and completely traffic-independent (as opposed to an LGA taxi/Uber). PATH is great for lower Manhattan, but there’s really no need for the extension or transfers – once you’re on the NJ side, it’s a fairly cheap and fast Uber ride right to the terminal curb with minimal traffic issues (in my experience). Newark airport should look at running shuttles to PATH.

          1. I actually like NJT from Penn to EWR. It’s a bit more expensive but they have frequent peak hour trains, and it’s not normally as crowded as the subway. I actually flew to EWR and took NJT to Penn and LIRR to my home in eastern Queens.

  15. CF, I think our friend here is not appreciating how long it takes to travel on NY subway on the way to JFK. The issue with EWR was that you have to either take subway to Penn Station (which could take a while) or take PATH train to Newark Penn Station. Either way, you have to deal with NJ transit, which is a nightmare at certain point of the day. Eliminating NJ transit from that equation and going with just PATH train + airtrain makes a huge difference. It’s going to take around 25 minutes to go from WTC to Newark airport station + about 10 minutes from airport station to terminal B. Add in time to WTC penn station, wait for it and then transfer time. You can get from downtown to EWR terminal in under an hour pretty comfortably. Probably from Midtown. It would be hard to do this in the real world on public transit to JFK or LGA. Believe me, I’ve tried many times.

    I have to say this again. It cost more money to take LIRR or NJT. Waiting for train confuses people. Being able to get to your terminal with subway + airtrain or PATH + airtrain is a big deal. And it’s much more pleasant than subway + express bus to LGA. Building Airtrain from citi field is a terrible idea. Nobody in Downtown wants to take 4/5 to grand central, take a local 7 train to the second last stop and then another airtrain. Only New York politicians can think it makes sense. JFK did a great job with its Airtrain. It’s too bad that no convenient route exists for LGA.

    Just as an example, using public transit as I speak on 10 pm EST from WTC
    to JFK terminal 4
    1 hour 16 minutes without LIRR – this is pretty realistic

    to LGA terminal D
    1 hour 1 minutes – I can tell you in reality that google severely underestimates bus latency.

    to EWR terminal B
    51 minutes – I have not taken this myself, so can’t say how accurate it is.

    If you eliminate the NJT from trip to EWR. It might not even save much time, but having 1 less hop is really attractive. PATH extension will be a game-changer if it gets built.

    EWR doesn’t need to be more convenient than LGA. It just needs to be as convenient as LGA to take enough business travelers away from LGA to hurt. Remember, people don’t always pick the airport that they are closest too. Schedule, competition and price do matter. People avoided EWR in the past due to its location in NJ and due to UA dominance. That’s a big changing factor here.

    1. FC and Cranky – I understand what you think, and yes travel times are a factor to always consider, but again: the PATH extension, while useful, will not make EWR “far and away the most convenient” airport in the region.

      The subways to the JFK AirTrain serve more than just both of the Manhattan CBDs, including those in Brooklyn and Queens, and overall provide more coverage than PATH. This is key for the employee travel market, and for those budget-minded travelers. As to business travelers, most will either still use a taxi/Uber, or if they use transit they will be on/are on the LIRR, which will be faster to LGA/is faster to JFK from Midtown and will have the choice of two Manhattan departure points. The price difference is rounding error for a business traveler. And again: from Midtown, the PATH extension does nothing for you. You would still need to transfer at Journal Square. (And frankly I don’t think the NJ Transit service is bad – it’s just that service to EWR is better than it is currently to LGA, and business travelers still use LGA…)

  16. From Lower Manhattan, the PATH extension will indeed improve the convenience of trips to EWR, but not to a degree that makes it significantly more convenient than JFK. (From Lower Manhattan the A express to Howard Beach is quick and easy…)

    And please remember: Lower Manhattan is a lot less business-traveler oriented than it used to be. Since 9/11, it has become more much more residential than Midtown. And it has never been closer to LGA than EWR, so the PATH extension – while good – won’t likely cause a shift from the LGA market that would be significant or that hasn’t already happened.

  17. FC – I understand market dynamics, and I think you are right that shifts will occur – I just don’t think they are going to be quite as significant or “big time” (as per your reply above) in terms of the relative/comparative levels of business travel to each of the 3 airports as you think, particularly in terms of EWR and LGA relative market shares. Agree to disagree ?

    Again, the LGA suburban travel shed is still quite wealthy and huge, anyone in a taxi or Uber (both business travelers and tourists) will still find it the closest, fastest and cheapest to Midtown, and the LGA AirTrain – while not perfect, certainly – will keep it as competitive timewise, if not more so (certainly to Midtown – remember LIRR will swiftly serve LGA from both sides of Midtown – it’s not just the 7 train!) than with the other area airports via transit.

    Look – both EWR and LGA are pretty convenient for certain markets. I just feel that you are likely overestimating the extent of post-COVID shifts in the business market and the “damage” that would do to LGA even if they were to occur.

    And yes – PANYNJ is supposedly reviewing whether or not to keep the perimeter rule. That’s the real game-changer.

    Thanks for an interesting discussion – you certainly get my thinking cap on! And I do appreciate it and appreciate Cranky for hosting us! Take care all!

    1. Took a look from WTC to EWR T-A vs LGA T-D as I write this (29 minutes to LGA and 22 minutes to EWR)

      And then look at Penn Station to EWR T-A vs LGA T-D (24 minutes to EWR and 26 minutes to LGA).

      It’s pretty far fetched to say LGA to midtown is the closest, fastest and cheapest. And that’s before having to deal with ride share situation at LGA.

      EWR has always been as convenient as LGA in terms of taxi/rideshare. Both are not attractive from public transit POV because EWR requires NJT and LGA requires taking crowded buses. With PATH extension, EWR will become a lot more attractive, because NJT is eliminated from the equation. People don’t like taking LIRR or NJT. It’s confusing. It’s more expensive. You have to go to Penn Station, figure out which train to take and where to buy it from. You have to figure out where to figure out when is the next train and which platform to go. So you end up always padding more time when you are taking train. For subway/PATH, you just show up and wait for the next one on that platform. Why do you think airtain to JFK is such a success? It’s no because of LIRR. You take the wrong train and you end up in middle of nowhere in Long Island. It works because you can take the relatively fast E train and then do a very short walk to where Airtrain starts off.

      There are many reasons why LGA was considered airport of choice pre-COVID vs EWR. There are also reasons why JFK was ahead of EWR for beyond perimeter flying even though EWR is definitely closer.

      EWR had the stigma of being in Jersey and you can’t get there via MTA. People just perceive it to be further away.

      EWR had the stigma of being a UA only airport and not having choices like LGA and JFK.

      LGA had always historically been the airport of choice and offered the most convenient schedule out of the 3 NYC airport.

      What has happened since COVID? People are flying out of EWR a lot more because you don’t get greeted with national guard when arriving in EWR vs LGA/JFK? People are working closer to home, which makes EWR more convenient for people. The tunnels to NJ all got less car traffic so you can get to EWR more quickly now. If JetBlue expands enough at EWR, UA would no longer be the only option at EWR.

      We will see whether these trends hold. DAL is more convenient to people living in Downtown Dallas but DFW is still the airport of choice. For people who live in NJ or brooklyn or long island and worked in Manhattan, their preference most likely have already shifted during COVID time.

      So, the question is how will people traveling into and out of downtown/midtown Manhattan view the airports. We will see. I think EWR has lost a lot of its bad stigma during COVID time due to people picking EWR over LGA to avoid dealing with more cumbersome NY lockdown policies. That’s the type of change in perception which will change people’s preference post COVID.

      1. FC – All good points. Let me reply:

        You wrote: Took a look from WTC to EWR T-A vs LGA T-D as I write this (29 minutes to LGA and 22 minutes to EWR)

        Looking now, I got 24 minutes to EWR T-A and 26 minutes to LGA T-D. But the key here is the average peak period travel time, which Google shows as a range. For EWR T-A it is 26-45 minutes, whereas for LGA T-D it is 35-60 minutes. To give some balance, from the Water Street/Hanover Square area (on the eastern side of Lower Manhattan) the averages are 26-50 minutes to EWR T-A and 30-60 minutes to LGA T-D. So, on average, EWR is somewhat closer to Lower Manhattan timewise by car/taxi/Uber. With regards to Lower Manhattan, I think you are making my case for me: if EWR was already closer, there would be relatively little new competitive advantage for the EWR market post-COVID in terms of auto travel time that it didn’t already have over LGA.

        You wrote: And then look at Penn Station to EWR T-A vs LGA T-D (24 minutes to EWR and 26 minutes to LGA). It’s pretty far fetched to say LGA to midtown is the closest, fastest and cheapest. And that’s before having to deal with ride share situation at LGA.

        Looking now, I got 27 minutes to EWR T-A and 26 minutes to LGA T-D. But again, the key here is the average peak period travel time, which Google shows as a range. For EWR T-A it is 30-55 minutes, whereas for LGA T-D it is 26-55 minutes. So, essentially, a “wash” timewise. But LGA is definitely closer physically (which matters on the meter) and cheaper pricewise in any kind of yellow cab, if not an Uber, especially with tolls. And when, for balance, you don’t use Penn Station as an automobile starting point but rather Bryant Park (closer to the heart of Midtown) the average travel time ranges are 30-55 minutes to EWR T-A and 24-45 minutes to LGA T-D. If you go over to the densest portion of commercial space in Midtown near Grand Central, the average travel time ranges are 35-65 minutes to EWR T-A and 22-40 minutes to LGA T-D. This shows – on average – LGA clearly has a travel time advantage from Midtown.

        And the “ride share situation at LGA” is going to improve markedly with the completion of the new terminal construction project!

      2. You wrote: EWR has always been as convenient as LGA in terms of taxi/rideshare.

        I have to respectfully disagree. It depends on the time of day, as shown above, and it’s definitely cheaper (on average) for a taxicab to LGA – and JFK has a flat taxicab fare, thus removing the uncertainty of getting caught in traffic on the way to Idlewild.

        You wrote: Both are not attractive from public transit POV because EWR requires NJT and LGA requires taking crowded buses. With PATH extension, EWR will become a lot more attractive, because NJT is eliminated from the equation. People don’t like taking LIRR or NJT. It’s confusing. It’s more expensive. You have to go to Penn Station, figure out which train to take and where to buy it from. You have to figure out where to figure out when is the next train and which platform to go. So you end up always padding more time when you are taking train. For subway/PATH, you just show up and wait for the next one on that platform.

        Again, I must respectfully disagree. From Midtown, NJT was simply not that hard to fathom to EWR, and again – the PATH extension does nothing from Midtown as it is still a 3-seat ride to EWR. And I just feel that the MTA Long Island Rail Road and NJ Transit are simply not that confusing! Plenty of people use them every day to get to the airports, and with improved signage and facilities (you should see the JFK AirTrain “welcome Center” at Moynihan Train Hall) it’s well within the ability of Americans to figure out easily. I think you give us too little credit! If Europeans can figure out how to take fast suburban trains to their airports, so can we! Many of the “headaches” you describe for taking a suburban train also apply to using the subway or PATH, especially for a tourist or occasional user. And the LIRR or NJ Transit price for many travelers is simply not that much higher – relatively speaking – especially when compared to a car service of some type. (Much there depends on the size of the party traveling, of course.)

        You wrote: Why do you think airtain to JFK is such a success? It’s no because of LIRR. You take the wrong train and you end up in middle of nowhere in Long Island. It works because you can take the relatively fast E train and then do a very short walk to where Airtrain starts off.

        The JFK AirTrain is a success for many factors: it connects to 2 different subway terminals, one of which (Howard Beach) provides a reliably fast express subway to Lower Manhattan. At the other (Jamaica) it connects with the Queens Boulevard E express train (as well as the J/Z), but yes – also because it connects with the LIRR at Jamaica! Every LIRR line with one exception goes through Jamaica, and getting to the JFK AirTrain is definitely easier form the LIRR platforms than from the subway station! When East Side Access opens, that connection with fast and frequent LIRR service to either Penn Station or Grand Central will be a key factor.

        1. If you think LIRR and NJT are not confusing for people that normally only take subways, then you really haven’t lived long enough in Manhattan.

          JFK airtrain via A train is terrible. The first time I took it, I ended up on the line to ozone park. Thank goodness I left really early. Even now, I still prefer to take E train and airtrain rather than A train when leaving from fidi.

          I feel distinctly insulted by your posts, because your posts would indicate I’m an idiot or my family members are stupid.

          Because we’ve definitely got lost on LIRR and ended up somewhere in Long Island. And I’m never taking LIRR to airport again. And all the time I took NJT to EWR and out of EWR have all been such an annoying hassel that I only do rideshare to there now.

          1. FC – My sincere apologies! Please believe me – I do not and did not intend to make you feel insulted! Again, my sincere apologies – please know that I enjoy the discourse and truly find your viewpoints very engaging! I understand that the regional suburban rail services may sometimes seem confusing for people that normally only take subways, but speaking for myself I simply don’t find them overly so in comparison to PATH or the subway system, and they are used all the time by airport travelers. Any “new mode” or experience (using the subway is as confusing for people who only drive or ride Metro-North, for example) will seem confusing the first few times someone uses it – even freeway driving! Can wayfinding and other aspects of the journey be improved? Definitely – I agree with you 100%! Is it such a hassle vis-à-vis the subway that its speed should be discounted, or the fact that the LIRR will provide fast connections to both LGA and JFK AirTrains from both Penn and Grand Central be discounted? I don’t believe so. In some regards, they can even be less confusing than the subway (and I have lived in New York City essentially my entire life). They are faster, they have overhead luggage racks, they have onboard crew to assist with directions, et cetera. Many of the things that some may find confusing about the suburban trains also occur with the subway – for example, multiple branches of service, where to purchase a fare, stations with multiple exits and entrances served by different services, et cetera. And I personally have never had an issue with the “A” to Howard Beach from Fulton Street, although I do agree that the “E” really zips along Queens Boulevard.

            Again – I sincerely apologize if you felt insulted, and please know that was not my intention!

            1. It’s really not that difficult to take transit to EWR or JFK if in Midtown, but LGA on the other hand is a pain as the only way currently is by bus or a subway bus transfer in Jackson Heights Queens. Once the AirTrain opens & the ESA opens whole new access routes will be created if slightly indirect to all airports.

              On the PATH extension, as noted the train will end roughly at the same place where the NEC station is located & therefore use of the monorail is required regardless of rail service used. Also transfers at Journal Square are cross platform with little time penalty, so that shouldn’t be an issue.

              Here is a trip example off the top of my head from Hoboken to EWR…

              1. Njt to Secaucus & transfer to a Northeast Corridor or NJ Coast line train.
              2. PATH to Exchange Place & transfer to a NWK bound train. Now with the extension noted above the train will take you to the monorail & all that is necessary is to turn around at Exchange place without the third step of transferring at Newark Penn witch is required now.

  18. You wrote: There are many reasons why LGA was considered airport of choice pre-COVID vs EWR. There are also reasons why JFK was ahead of EWR for beyond perimeter flying even though EWR is definitely closer.
    EWR had the stigma of being in Jersey and you can’t get there via MTA. People just perceive it to be further away.
    EWR had the stigma of being a UA only airport and not having choices like LGA and JFK.
    LGA had always historically been the airport of choice and offered the most convenient schedule out of the 3 NYC airport.
    What has happened since COVID? People are flying out of EWR a lot more because you don’t get greeted with national guard when arriving in EWR vs LGA/JFK? People are working closer to home, which makes EWR more convenient for people. The tunnels to NJ all got less car traffic so you can get to EWR more quickly now. If JetBlue expands enough at EWR, UA would no longer be the only option at EWR.

    I literally am not aware of anyone that felt EWR had some type of “Jersey stigma”. And the MTA pay-per-ride MetroCard can be used on PATH. I just don’t think that was a significant factor. I think the main concern here access-wise was that the cab fare was so much higher to EWR, and cabbies hated going there as they could not get a fare back from EWR into the City like they could from JFK or LGA.

    I agree about the UA fortress hub, though – as that changes, it will help EWR, but not to such a great extent that it becomes some kind of “LGA killer”.

    1. The National Guard? I have seen plenty of NJ State Police at EWR along with PANYNJ police in battle armor. Were you joking about that?

      Working closer to home? That makes EWR more convenient for some, and less convenient for others – again, we’ll need to agree to disagree (and yes, I understand the market dynamics of frequent flyers on both sides of the Hudson), as I just don’t think it will cause such a significant shift as to be an “LGA killer” There are still PLENTY of work-from-home/live-at-work folks in Westchester and Connecticut, and don’t forget those parts of New Jersey that remain closer to LGA for both residents and businesspeople (e.g., average peak period travel time range from Englewood Cliffs to LGA T-D: 22-35 minutes and from there to EWR T-A: 28-45 minutes).

      Tunnel traffic? The Lincoln Tunnel can be a parking lot as much as the Queens-Midtown Tunnel (and doesn’t have the option of the Queensboro Bridge or Triboro Bridge) and the Holland Tunnel can also be a mess – again, look at the average peak period travel time ranges to get a better sense. I’m not disagreeing with your overall premise – there may be times it is faster (as the ranges bear out), but not enough so consistently so as to significantly alter relative travel shares.

      And I agree – if UA is not “the only option” at EWR, it will cause some shifts – but again, I feel shifts will happen at the other 2 primary airports as well and the final shake-out will be relative market shares approximately the same as where they are now.

      1. You wrote: We will see whether these trends hold. DAL is more convenient to people living in Downtown Dallas but DFW is still the airport of choice. For people who live in NJ or brooklyn or long island and worked in Manhattan, their preference most likely have already shifted during COVID time.

        So, the question is how will people traveling into and out of downtown/midtown Manhattan view the airports. We will see. I think EWR has lost a lot of its bad stigma during COVID time due to people picking EWR over LGA to avoid dealing with more cumbersome NY lockdown policies. That’s the type of change in perception which will change people’s preference post COVID.

        I think – again – that you are putting too much emphasis on short-term COVID impacts. The lockdown policies will have no relevance in 3 years on anybody’s preferences. Any travel market shifts amongst the airports will be determined by the available flight options and costs – not by occasional trips taken during COVID – and those shifts will benefit each facility in different ways and hurt them in different ways. So yes – “we will see” – but I am willing to say that the final shake-out won’t be all that much different from what we saw pre-COVID, relatively speaking.

        1. I’m not sure why each of my posts require 6 posts on your part. The reality is that people simply didn’t consider EWR for a long time. It has the perception of being really far away even though it was just as convenient as LGA. That’s why UA had to do all this advertising campaign about how close EWR is to Manhattan. Due to COVID, people are not flying out of LGA right now and they are flying out of EWR. If people view LGA and EWR as equally convenient and flexible in terms of flight options and time to airport, LGA is going to loose a lot of demand to EWR. LGA had the perception of being the most convenient airport. We will see if that holds post-COVID. I don’t think it will.

          LGA is an airport that depended on high value business traffic from downtown and midtown Manhattan. When those office buildings are empty and moved to outer boroughs, LGA will take a major hit.

          1. FC – For whatever reason, my responses have a character limit, hence the multiple posts. My apologies!

            Again, I would need to respectfully disagree with you – I believe the “perception” issue you mention was more vis-à-vis JFK. All of the United “taxi top” ads that showed travel time to EWR were comparing it with JFK. I NEVER saw one comparing it with LGA. And I believe that you are correct – some people will see EWR as more convenient and flexible than LGA, but I just don’t see that there would be ENOUGH people to significantly “move the needle” in terms of relative market share of each facility, once everything shakes out. We’ll see if enough people view LGA as not being the most convenient post-COVID: you think they will, and I simply don’t think that’s the case.
            Finally, I think (again) that you are maybe overestimating (1) LGA’s reliance on high-value business traffic, and (2) the extent to which “office buildings are empty” in the long term. I feel that the LGA catchment area is far greater than the Manhattan CBDs, and that plenty of people in those areas will still opt for LGA.
            Now, should the perimeter rule be abolished, then there could be some real market share shifts, but likely more to the detriment of JFK than EWR!

            Again – I appreciate the back-and-forth and find it enjoyable and interesting, and I thank Cranky for his forum!

  19. Great post, Cranky.

    I find it totally odd that STL is left out of the BOS and JFK mix, given AA’s historic presence there and that STL-BOS was one of the last non-hub routes to go as AA shrunk its non-hub flying in STL. Yes, JetBlue has never served STL, but I would have predicted an AA STL-BOS as part of this would happen. Thoughts on that?

    My current feeling (AA loyalist here)? This does not shift my behavior until there is much better coordination between the two carriers and a more consistent passenger experience. Might look great on paper, but unless the reciprocal benefits things are done correctly (bags, mileage earning, upgrades, etc.), I think you’re going to have a lot of traditional loyalists not change their behavior.

    Call me weird, but I’ve flown JetBlue a few times, and every time I fly it, I’m disappointed compared to what I expect as a network-carrier oriented customer. For example: no (even hope for an!) upgrade, no lounge, horrible options (and service) during irregular operations, a sense that I’m flying a leisure carrier. Free chips don’t make that better. I hope AA and JetBlue are thinking about this from the customer, and not just the network, angle. Right now, if I’ve got a choice between Delta and JetBlue on a route, even if I can now book the JetBlue route on AA.com and earn some AA miles, I’m choosing Delta.

    1. Keep in mind that AA/B6 partnership makes all the problems you listed better.

      There will be some type of upgrade system for AA elites. Most likely same day upgrade to EMS that now exists for Mosaic members.

      More importantly, you will most likely get re-accommodated on AA flight during IRROPS. That’s always been the biggest complaint about JetBlue from ff.

      We already know that buying tickets on AA codeshare will earn both AA miles and qualifying miles.

      I can’t comment on the part about leisure carrier. If having more leg room, wider seat, better wifi access and seatback entertainment is not good enough for you, then I guess JetBlue is not the right carrier for you then.

  20. To add my own personal experience/viewpoint to the merits of JFK v LGA v EWR, when I fly into/through NYC I’m usually either going to Times Square, or connecting onwards. If going to Manhattan, I’m wanting the cheapest/simplest public transport route that gets me closest to Times Sq., preferably avoiding a bus. Currently, that puts JFK at the top of my list, plus my wife prefers B6 over legacy airlines, so another point for JFK.

    I’m happy using the subway, wish it were simpler to navigate but I manage okay. Haven’t tried LIRR yet, but the extra fare on that deters me. I already don’t like the Airtrain fare of course…

    YMMV; going to a different part of NYC, loyal to a different airline, don’t mind paying for a taxi, etc., etc. There’s so many variations that what works well for one of us is going to put another off. The LGA Airtrain will make LGA more useful to me, but JFK still comes out ahead for me personally.

  21. quoting cranky :

    “But what I do know is that whenever United decides it wants to run a full schedule in Newark again, things are going to get very ugly. The airport can’t handle this kind of volume, so something’s gotta give.”

    yes we all witness the remarkable success WN and NK had at EWR to take down UA. UA didnt’ even need to engage in any fare war, and got WN to completely abandoning the station.

    As for jetBlue, they have an extremely loyal flyer base in NYC to the Caribbean islands, both leisurely and VFR traffic. One can even argue jetblue is the *de facto* flag carrier for Jamaica, despite them having their own carrier.

    And let’s not fantasize. “Full schedule” is all a pipe dream. The combination of all airlines’ capacity, or more accurately, the demand of it, won’t return to 2019 levels at least until 2028-2030 timeframe. Yes there will be a short-term spike post widespread vaccine deployment, in the leisure space.

    The part about business travel though….. the earlier we stop drinking IATA’s koolaid, the earlier we can get to actually start making realistic plans about where things are headed.

Leave a Reply to CF Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Cranky Flier