JetBlue leaving 5 cities as it cuts unprofitable routes

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Low-cost airline JetBlue is planning to eliminate routes to five cities and reduce its service to Los Angeles as it looks to improve its financial performance after a federal court blocked its proposed merger with rival budget carrier Spirit Airlines.

The airline will eliminate routes to Kansas City, Missouri, as well as Bogota, Colombia; Quito, Ecuador; and Lima, Peru. JetBlue will also eliminate service to Newburgh, New York, which has been suspended since 2020, and cut the number of flights in Los Angeles from about 34 to 24 daily flights. The changes are expected to take effect in June.

“These decisions are never easy, however, these markets have recently fallen short of our expectations,” JetBlue told FOX Business in a statement. “These moves will allow us to redeploy our fleet to increase frequencies on well-performing routes from JetBlue’s focus cities while continuing to increase crucial ground time for our aircraft, reducing the chance of delays for our customers.

“The changes will also help us during a time when aircraft availability is limited – particularly with some of our aircraft grounded due to Pratt & Whitney GTF engine inspections.”

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The airline is dealing with a shortage of aircraft due to an issue with the RTX Pratt & Whitney turbofan engines in seven of its Airbus A320neo airliners that are grounded. JetBlue said that number is expected to rise to as many as 15 by the end of 2024.

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
JBLU JETBLUE AIRWAYS CORP. 7.17 +0.46 +6.86%
SAVE SPIRIT AIRLINES INC. 4.46 +0.36 +8.78%

“Most of our customers impacted by these changes will be able to select alternate flight options themselves on JetBlue.com. Where alternate routes are not available, customers will be provided with a refund,” the company said in its statement to FOX Business.

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A JetBlue Airways Airbus A320-232

JetBlue network planning head Dave Jehn wrote a memo discussing the changes, which was reviewed by Reuters. In the memo, Jehn told the airline’s crew members that its financial performance has suffered in certain short-haul routes in the western U.S. and Midwest markets, as well as South America.

“More than ever, every route has to earn its right to stay in the network,” Jehn wrote. He added that the move doesn’t change the airline’s capacity outlook for this year, which is expected to drop by a low single-digit percentage rate from 2023.

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JetBlue planes in Boston, Massachusetts

New JetBlue CEO Joanna Geraghty has vowed to take “aggressive action” to return the airline to profitability. The measures include the deferral of about $2.5 billion in aircraft capital expenditures and cutting costs through buyouts to employees in corporate, airport and customer support functions. JetBlue is also trying to generate an extra $300 million in revenue this year.

JetBlue’s proposed merger with Spirit Airlines was blocked by a federal judge in January after the court found that the merger would hurt consumers by combining two low-cost airlines that would otherwise compete for passengers.

In the wake of the ruling, JetBlue and Spirit officially terminated the proposed merger and have looked to restructure their operations to improve their financial performance.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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