3 Links I Love: Ominous JetBlue Move, Breeze Light Loads, Airline Shutdown, So Long PBB

Links I Love

JetBlue Promotes Dave Clark to Head of Revenue and PlanningJetBlue Media Room
This is good news for Dave Clark who used to run network planning, then revenue management, and now will be in charge of both. He should do a great job. But the bigger news is that he is getting this job, because he’s replacing Scott Laurence who will leave the airline. I have heard from three entirely unrelated parties that Scott is heading down south to work for another airline, but that airline did not respond to my request for confirmation. If it is true, that will be very bad news for American and JetBlue if a chief architect of the Northeast Alliance is now defecting.

Tweet of the Week

Nothing like some rough justice since Breeze still is not reporting its numbers to DOT. This is the best we have right now.

Two for the Road

Pacific Coastal Airlines temporarily suspends flights due to Omicron cases among staffGlobal News
I was wondering when we’d see the first airline have to shut down due to staffing shortages from COVID. Here it is. Now Alaska is cutting 10 percent of flights, JetBlue already pulled back… bleh.

Hello There. We Decided To Hang Out Over Here. At Least For Now.PlanePerspectives
In case you missed it, Holly Hegeman has decided to hang it up over at PlaneBusiness. The PlaneBusiness Banter, a staple read for me since I was in college, is now gone. For now, she’ll be posting updates at PlanePerspectives which is linked above, so you can follow over there until she resurfaces. Thanks, Holly, for helping kindle my love of the business side of this industry way back in the day. I look forward to seeing what’s next.

20 comments on “3 Links I Love: Ominous JetBlue Move, Breeze Light Loads, Airline Shutdown, So Long PBB

  1. “Very bad news for AA and B6…”

    Flip side of it is that the NEA has been such bad news for delta that they felt compelled to lure one of the architects of it to counteract it. Something they, apparently, don’t have the internal ability to do without Scott.

    Seems to speak to how badly Delta is bothered by the NEA. AA and B6 have plenty of pros to backfill Scott.

    1. Why do you have to assume he went to Delta? Silver Airways is headquartered in the South as well.

    2. I agree with Julie: Delta realizes they have a serious multi-front war on their hands, and they need all the inside info they can get. Scott will help them fight the battles in BOS, LGA, and JFK, but they’ve still got battles at SEA and LAX (AS+AA) not to mention all the ULCCs bypassing ATL with nonstops to Florida. Planned DL offensives in AUS and MIA already seem to be stalled as they realize they need to marshall resources for defense.

      1. There is nothing really special about what JetBlue does at JFK and BOS. JetBlue has a lot more to learn from legacies than vice versa. Scott does have a wealth of knowledge of internal conversations that JetBlue has had about future strategies/plannings and discussions with partners that very few people would have. For example, he could have Delta stop JetBlue’s efforts to get LHR slots. He would know how far along JetBlue might be trying to partner up with IAG or AS or someone else. He would know how B6/AA plan to make joint pitches for corporate customers and such.

        Scott will have a bunch of ideas and find out pretty soon that he doesn’t have the same power to implement them at DL. And then, he will probably move on to a higher position somewhere else. Guys like that are looking to be CEOs.

  2. First, let’s file this under the “speculative” category at least with respect to Laurence going to Delta. If he did, you have to ask why he was willing to not just leave JBLU but go to its most direct competitor. And you have to ask why people with unique knowledge don’t have non-disclosure or non-compete agreements. While they aren’t recognized in every state, that might say something about where or where not companies choose to do business and the risks they are willing to take.
    Given that Scott Kirby left American at a much higher level for United, this type of move isn’t unprecedented. Kirby said that he would not take information from AA to UA and, so far as any of us know, he built UA based on what he took.
    The reality is that Laurence might have been the key architect for the Northeast Agreement at JBLU which American and JetBlue are now having to defend before the DOJ in a case that is due to be heard later this year. Delta’s greatest gain, if they really did hire him away, might not in taking away the person that could have been their star witness for the NEA from JBLU but potentially using him to develop DAL’s case against the NEA.
    We’ll have to see how it plays out but market knowledge might be secondary to defense of the NEA.
    Since Delta has already loaded schedules that bring them closer to parity with JetBlue at Boston by this summer – and possibly exceeding JBLU – the NEA might have accelerated Delta’s growth plans for Boston which JBLU once called its most profitable hub pre-covid and pre-NEA.

    1. Lol, DOJ has no case here. It’s never going to be make it to the court. If Delta did push Scott out there, it will simply expose that they are the culprit behind the push in the first place.

      Scott Laurence is going to Delta and taking a lower position than what he had JetBlue. People at that level often do not have non-compete. I have seen people at that level make moves to competitors that would be unthinkable for little people like me. This is deeply humiliating for JetBlue management. We all know JetBlue is a smaller airline and less desirable company, but this will make things very plain and obvious. This might finally force a push by JetBlue board to bring someone new in to take control of things instead of just handing everything to Joanna. She and Robin have done nothing but chase away all the senior people. At least Robin will have a record of building up their Boston focus city. Joanna’s record will be one of running operations at an airline with one of the worst operation in the industry.

      As for your other point, you may have underestimated JetBlue’s ability to run a larger schedule next summer. They will be back to pretty close to 2019 level of departures and with plenty of room for growth. They will get to close to 200 flights a day by second half of 2023. Given how much Delta continues to cut its Q1 schedule these days, it’s quite optimistic to believe they will not cut a lot more as we get to summer time. Regardless, Delta can accelerate their Boston plan as much as they want, but they are gate constrained and have a pretty clear ceiling. It remains a bottom 5 percentile station with no hope of doing any better. And once its LAX/SEA/SLC terminal are finished, it will have to stop throwing temper tantrums and deploy mainline capacity to places it was always planning to do (before all the NEA announcements). And it will also have to deal with this regional crisis where they simply can’t find enough people to work for them.

      Boston was never JetBlue’s most profitable hub. It was always JFK. It will also be JFK going forward. I’m seeing these days that JetBlue is operating more flights out of JFK than Delta. Maybe Delta should keep its eyes on NYC rather than Boston? As JetBlue embarks on the biggest infrastructure project in it’s history, Delta decided to go cheap and keep T-4 a bandaid solution for decades to come.

      But don’t worry, there will be an end to both B6/DL buildups in NYC and Boston. By 2025, neither will have any room to grow here. Delta will do itself a lot of good by focusing more on the looming ULCC explosion. And JetBlue will do itself a lot of good by focusing less on Florida and more on LAX/SFO.

      1. Lots in your reply.
        Because there is an active court case, we can all argue our points about the NEA but a settlement, court ruling, or withdrawal of the case will demonstrate whether the case has validity or not.
        Delta is a much larger company so a “lower” position does not at all mean less responsibility. An increased salary might give him a much higher QOL and he very well could grow to be more much influential at Delta than he ever could be at JetBlue.
        Picking a date in January is questionable to compare B6 and DL at JFK when JetBlue is cancelling double digit percentage of its flights every day and a large percentage of Delta JFK slots are protected international slots under covid slot rules.
        Capacity does not translate into profits which is what for-profit companies exist for.
        JetBlue simply does not have the aircraft now or will have in 2022 to add all of the flights at LGA that they and AA want them to add and still grow BOS and the half dozen other projects you think they will be able to support. It just won’t happen. Delta’s growth at BOS is driven in part because B6 simply can’t focus on building multiple hubs at the same time; as much as some people want to believe otherwise, Delta has demonstrated that it can. B6 simply will not control all of the gates that are opened at BOS for expansion. There is no airline that has an unlimited supply of gates. And Delta reached parity with JetBlue in BOS local market revenue in the summer of 2019. With much more international capacity and new domestic routes, they know what they need to do to eliminate the size gap.
        Delta has more widebody capacity on order than American and United combined excluding the UA A350s and also has hundreds of narrowbodies on order. As much as you want to believe otherwise, Delta is not and will not be short of aircraft. Delta is likely to announce more aircraft orders next week.
        Delta became the largest airline by local market revenue at LAX during the pandemic and will likely retain that based on the yield premium and capacity differences between AA and DL. Delta and Alaska have competed successfully at SEA and the percentage of capacity and revenue between them has remained constant. The notion that B6 will find gates to grow anywhere but other carriers cannot is naïve.
        JetBlue’s own execs, not me, said Boston was their most profitable hub – before Delta’s designation of BOS as a hub.

        1. Do you even listen to yourself? You have internal metric knowledge to say they will not have enough aircraft to run the scheduled ops for LGA/JFK this summer? I know B6 has its operational flaws, but they have been super prescient on how they allocate their resources, look how they build back up since the pandemic compared to their peers. Delta has been hubbed at JFK a decade more than jetblue and B6 has been doing a heck of a job building up as a scrappy start up right in the backyard of one of DL biggest along as AA also. Big AA had to approach B6 and admit defeat and join forces in with them. So to say they just put a schedule out and all of a sudden they are “oops..guess what..we can’t count enough aircraft”…comon man. This is why your statements are constantly challenged cause your blinded by your chaffed loyalty to Ol D.
          next…..

          1. first of all, B6 was “born” just before 9/11. Delta started to build JFK as a hub in 2004 with the closure of DFW. AA was the largest airline at JFK for years before B6 was born or DL committed to becoming the largest airline at JFK which they still are. Picking a date in the middle of January in a pandemic when B6 is cancelling double digit percentage of its flights does not prove that B6 has overtaken DL at JFK.
            Because of 9/11 and DL’s focus on NYC, DL put its growth plans at BOS on hold which provided B6 with an opportunity to become the largest airline at BOS – and B6 jumped. Several years ago, DL, which is the product of a BOS based airline (Northeast in the 70s) decided it was going to reclaim its position in BOS with a focus on longhaul international flights which is exactly the same type of strategy that it has used in BOS; with multiple hubs and a longhaul network plus immunized JV partners, DL is simply playing in a separate league than AS at SEA or B6 at BOS. DL has been content to get about 75% of AS’ local market revenue in SEA but has already achieved 100% of B6′ BOS revenue for a short period pre-pandemic and is clearly gunning to make that an ongoing characteristic of DL’s BOS hub. DL also receives multiple of times more revenue than B6 at JFK because of DL’s use of widebodies, longhaul international flights and more slots.
            The reason why B6 doesn’t and won’t have the aircraft to grow BOS and a million other initiatives like SFO and LAX is because AA has asked them to add dozens of flights at LGA so that AA doesn’t lose its slots. B6′ financial performance has been below other carriers including AS, DL and WN and they cannot continue to operate flights just for size. DL is simply a more profitable enterprise even on a margin basis; those that say DL is simply subsidizing its operations in the NE and on the west coast with its ATL, DTW etc hubs, why hasn’t anyone else figured out how to build similarly profitable hubs in 40+ years of deregulation?
            and one of the key reasons why DL has been as successful as it has in the NE competing with B6 is because B6′ operations are consistently well below industry average while DL’s are well above average. DL operates with higher on-time and lower cancellation rates not just in ATL, DTW, MSP, SLC etc but also in the same NE airports where B6 and now its partner AA, UA and DL all compete.
            Laurence is not the first B6 exec to leave. He clearly left of his own choice and, at a minimum, throws a wrench into B6′ plans. He might well be taking some information to DL but I will bet he doesn’t do a job directly competitive w/ B6. Even if he didn’t leave B6 for DL, B6 is on the defensive with his departure, not DL.

        2. You need to just stop lying. On Market share front. DL has never reached local market revenue with B6 at BOS. I don’t know where you get your sources, but I get my from DOT. You can subscribe to Enilria’s page and you will see the same. DL did not become the largest airline by local market share at LAX. It’s still behind AA by slight amount. There is no yield premium for Delta at LAX. AS is well over 50% of SEA’s local domestic revenue. More than 2 times that of DL. And that difference has increased during COVID time.

          Scott is the creator of the RDU focus city that disappeared after 6 months. Also the creator of RIC transcon station that disappeared after 6 months. And he is the guy that decided to try stuff like FLL-PSP/PDX and JFK-BOI/FCA. Have fun trying that at DL.

          If you actually followed what I’ve told you for the past 2 years, you will know that I have been pretty accurate at assessing what JetBlue is capable of doing. They are planning to operate about 10% more block hours this summer than summer of 2019. That’s a schedule they are well capable of operating based on their staffing projection and aircraft. They should have enough aircraft for 15% more block hours. Their active pilot ranks will increase 19% from summer of 2021 to end of 2022. They also had greater headcount growth than ULCCs from June to October. Unless they stop hiring, they should have adequate staffing.

          The reality is that B6 does have a significant gate advantage at BOS. It could potentially sublease gates from AA if it needs to grow more. It can also grow more easily into E for additional CUTE gates usage. B6/AA are flying 4 times a day out of ORH for a reason. B6 has the number of gates it needs to grow in all of its focus cities except for LAX. BOS and SEA will be bottom 5 percentile stations for DL as long as it has a huge gate disadvantage.

          DL is still projected to be below their 2019 fleet level by the end of 2022. Their new deliveries will simply grow them back to 2019 level if we factor in planned retirements. The bigger issue is that so many UNA pilots were still waiting to get current at end of last year. They also saw over 2000 pilots take early outs. Good luck getting that new hires and UNA pilots to be current. They’d have to work really hard to just reach 2019 levels by summer of 2023. That does not even address the regional problem. The ULCCs are plundering regional ranks for pilots and FAs. DL itself is far more realistic. They are still down over 15% in block hours for February/March vs 2019. They have the lowest % of block hours vs 2019 of any domestic carrier.

          Any independent analysis would show JFK was always B6’s most profitable focus city before COVID. JFK will always be B6’s cash cow. That’s why B6 operated more flights than DL out of JFK for most of holiday season even after the cancellations. JFK is a 70th percentile station for B6. It’s a bottom 30th percentile station for DL.

          1. You and others simply do not cite LOCAL MARKET REVENUE and PASSENGERS. Passenger boardings from T100 or capacity simply do not translate into how well a carrier does in a local market during the pandemic. Delta most certainly passed American in LAX in local market revenue and LOCAL MARKET passenger share although AA has re-added capacity. The large extra size that AA had at LAX was driven by all of the extra international flights it operated – many of which have been pulled down and will not restart – while it is also giving away a chunk of west coast flying to AS in a simple codeshare arrangement which means AA does not share in the revenue or profits.
            And Delta most certainly has and continues to get a yield premium not just in LAX but across its system. One of the few LAX routes where AA has a yield premium to DL is JFK – but AA gets its yield premium by using the A321T which is one of the highest CASM mainline aircraft in the US airline fleet. And DL still gets an average fare premium to B6.
            We can argue about what you think AA, B6 or DL can or can’t do – but let’s check back AFTER the summer has happened. I doubt very seriously that B6 will be able to regrow BOS as much as alot of people think along w/ adding a bunch of new flights at LGA, some from JFK and defending its position at FLL – on top of other markets which they have tried to add. B6 is famous for publishing excessively optimistic schedules in advance, pulling them down, and then still running a poor operation – which can only be fixed by using more reserve capacity in its system including a certain number of aircraft, which B6 refuses to do.
            The same is true for gate capacity at BOS. When Delta stops growing while JetBlue keeps growing because of gates, let us know. It hasn’t happened.
            Same thing regarding fleet.
            And you still miss the point that throwing airplanes in markets doesn’t equate to profitability which is what airlines are required to do. If B6′ board is unhappy about Laurence’s departure for a competitor – whoever it is – then they are even more concerned that B6 is no longer the high margin darling that it was for years and they have yet to demonstrate a plan that will get them back to that point as will be evidenced by financial results for the 4th quarter which will be announced soon.
            And there is no analysis – independent or not – that can tell anyone about airline hub profitability because that data is simply not public. and, once again, pure dollar size and margin size (% of revenue) is not the same thing. B6 execs repeatedly SAID that BOS was B6′ highest margin hub pre-Delta build up.
            Somehow B6 can’t figure out how to run its business the way AS does; even though AS and DL compete, they both manage to generate far better financial results and run better operations than B6.

            Enjoy your Saturday.

      2. btw, the DOT just released their Dec Air Travel Consumer Report which includes October on-time, cancellations, consumer complaints etc.
        The real news in that report is that B6 did improve their performance relative to where it has been in the past but, more significantly, Southwest’s performance was just plain terrible. They were worst among US airlines in terms of rates of cancellation while B6 was #2 behind Hawaiian in cancellation rate with Delta right behind, dragged down by regional carriers. WN usually does well (often around DL) in consumer complaints but they were last of the big 4 but ahead of B6.
        October was not a bad weather month but it is apparent why WN spent money over the holidays to keep crew working.
        B6 and WN aren’t the most direct competitors for each other but improvement relative to the industry is a good thing for B6 if they can keep it going.

        Just so you know that I do give credit where it is due even while discussing major strategic issues.

    2. I was recently told that Delta doesn’t even require a college degree to be a Pilot. What do they require? High School diploma? GED? Can a high school dropout now be a Delta Pilot? I see irony in a blogger with an MBA from Stanford and Delta putting high school graduates (hopefully) at the helm of an A-350-1000. Personally, I would like to see my Pilot have SOME sort of Life accomplishment that shows dedication to even an undergraduate degree prior to the enormous responsibilities entailed with being an airline pilot.

  3. I’m guessing (and only guessing) that Scott Laurence’s departure from JetBlue will probably turn out to be much ado about nothing. There are lots of very talented people in the airline industry.

    I’ve been enlightened by Holly Hegeman’s work over the years. I wish her nothing but the best and hope her health improves soon. The most important things we have are our lives and our health. And we often take them for granted.

  4. Whenever I see the name Dave Clark I can’t help but think of “Glad All Over”, “Bits and Pieces”, “Any Way You Want It” etc.

  5. Sad to read the news about Holly Hegeman and PlaneBusiness Banter. I was a subscriber years ago. One paid a premium for a subscription, but it was worth it. Like you, Cranky, Holly had her fans and her detractors. I was definitely a fan. And, I also look forward to when Holly lands on her feet!

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Cranky Flier