JetBlue Plans Huge LAX Expansion, Pulls Out Of LGB

Filed Under: JetBlue

JetBlue is using this opportunity to rejig its route network. A few weeks ago the airline announced it would bring Mint service to Newark, and would add dozens of point-to-point leisure routes.

Now the airline is changing up its strategy in Southern California.

JetBlue pulling out of Long Beach (LGB)

JetBlue has long been the largest airline out of Long Beach, though has also operated flights out of Burbank, Los Angeles, and Ontario, so has had quite the diversified presence in the greater Los Angeles area.

The airline will soon be changing its strategy, as JetBlue will be cancelling all flights out of Long Beach as of October 6, 2020. At a minimum, up until now the airline has operated flights from Long Beach to Austin, Boston, Bozeman (seasonally), Las Vegas, New York, Portland, Reno, Salt Lake City, San Francisco, and Seattle.

I’ll miss the open air terminal in Long Beach

JetBlue consolidating in Los Angeles (LAX)

With JetBlue pulling out of Long Beach, the new strategy is for JetBlue to make LAX its primary base of operations in the greater Los Angeles area.

This is advancing JetBlue’s focus city strategy and building relevance for the airline in one of the busiest markets in the world (LAX is the busiest O&D market in the world, meaning more people start or end their journey at LAX than any other airport).

With this shift, we’ll see JetBlue operate almost all current LGB services out of LAX, and also move crew and maintenance bases, starting in October. The airline will continue to operate out of Terminal 5 at LAX.

Once the transition is complete, JetBlue will operate more than 30 daily flights to 13 destinations out of LAX.

We’ll see JetBlue add service from LAX to the following seven destinations (the Portland service won’t be transitioning from LGB to LAX, but rather will be discontinued):

  • Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS)
  • Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport (BZN) [seasonal]
  • Las Vegas McCarran International Airport (LAS)
  • Reno-Tahoe International Airport (RNO)
  • Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC)
  • San Francisco International Airport (SFO)
  • Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA)

Currently JetBlue exclusively operates transcon flights out of LAX, and those will be maintained. That includes the following destinations:

  • Boston Logan International Airport (BOS)
  • Buffalo Niagara International Airport (BUF)
  • Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL)
  • New York John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK)
  • Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR)
  • Orlando International Airport (MCO)

The flights to Boston, Fort Lauderdale, New York, and Newark, are all operated by Mint configured aircraft.

JetBlue will offer Mint on four transcon routes

JetBlue’s long-term plans at LAX

Even beyond this initial increase in service at LAX, JetBlue plans to embark on a strategic expansion over the next five years at LAX, with plans to reach 70 daily flights by 2025. This will include new markets, both domestic and international, which have never had nonstop service to and from LAX.

Scott Laurence, head of revenue and planning at JetBlue, had the following to say about the new LAX focus:

“LAX is one of JetBlue’s most successful markets and offers the valuable opportunity to grow significantly both domestically and internationally while introducing our low fares on more routes. The transition to LAX, serving as the anchor of our focus city strategy on the West Coast, sets JetBlue up for success in Southern California. We continue to seize on opportunities to emerge from this pandemic a stronger competitive force in the industry.”

JetBlue plans to operate 70 daily flights from LAX by 2025

Bottom line

For the most part airlines are just fighting for survival at the moment. However, given how many planes have been grounded, this is also a good time for airlines to maybe reset their strategies. Clearly JetBlue is seizing that opportunity.

JetBlue’s strategy of operating out of four LA-area airports has long confused me, so it’s not surprising to see the airline pull out of at least one airport.

Up until now LAX has exclusively been a transcon market for JetBlue, while the airline will now be adding more short haul and West Coast flights. On top of that, the airline plans on going from 30 daily flights in October 2020 to 70 daily flights in 2025. That’s pretty significant.

What do you make of JetBlue’s strategy change?

  1. That’s too bad, LGB is a nice little airport. Much more pleasant experience than fighting the crowds at LAX.

  2. They’re just posturing for an Alaska merger. It’s coming in 3 – 5 years if not sooner because of covid.

  3. With AA downsizing, it appears B6 is getting the gate space to expand without having to leave Terminal 5. They probably got a favorable deal from LAWA.

    @John, that makes zero sense, if anything LAX expansion on the routes that they will serve makes an Alaska merger super redundant and even less likely to happen.

  4. LGB is a nice alternative to LAX. B6 is moving into a crowded airport, with hyper competition with AA, AS, DL, UA, WN. Down the road, B6 will end up merging with either one of the US3 or AS.

  5. @john – That and setting up the route network to better feed into the eventual international flights

  6. Will B6 increase gate utilisation for more LAX departures? Or any implication on existing transcon freqs being trimmed down?

  7. This is a bad mistake for jetBlue. Their only differentiator in the Southern California market was indeed LONG BEACH AIRPORT. LGB was like a private terminal for jetBlue, and it is a tranquil, well-run, well-designed airport that is free of all of the annoyances of LAX. I live in Long Beach, which is a large city of 500,000 people and is in a cachement area of many millions of travelers literally 20 miles south of LAX and 20 miles north of SNA/Orange County. As a business traveler, I go out of my way to avoid LAX (traffic can be more than 1.5 hours during the rush hours), and the ground experience (Lyft/Uber requiring a bus to the pickup zone) is horrible. Although I am an elite on AA and DL and do have to travel from LAX often, I will go out of my way to fly from LGB and I have really enjoyed jetBlue service for 19 years (I have been a jetBlue Mosaic for many years)… but I wont go all the way to LAX to take a flight on jetBlue when all of their services have competing flights on other airlines where I have more choice, status, first class upgrades, lounges, etc. If I have to go to LAX, its not going to be for jetBlue, its going to be on AA or DL. I will stick with AA and DL at LGB and will start using Southwest at Long Beach for the intra California/West Coast flights that I need. The only thing jetBlue has that is a competitive advantage at LAX is Mint service which is great… but they do not have a lounge– so if I am going to JFK– hello AA. jetBlue will only get competitive advantage on LAX-BOS, LAX-FLL because they have Mint. Maybe jetBlue founder David Neeleman will again see LGB as an option to launch flights to when Breeze Airways launches next year.

  8. I have to imagine the challenges/restrictions of B6 growing at LGB (due to local complaints about noise and congestion) had a factor in their decision. It’s too bad, because I suspect the local economy their probably had benefits of B6 there, I’m sure there is a study out there to cite.

    At any rate, say bye to that. The next question is who is going to take their place? Or will the airlines simply stop competing there? For that matter, given the local opposition to flights out of the airport, what airline would really want to? Further south is SNA, with larger operations, and to the east is ONT serving the inland market; and there’s LAX obviously for those more geographically aligned.

  9. This is great!!

    JetBlue deserves to be at a world class airport.

    This is also good for JetBlue and it’s code share partners.

  10. @jaymanlb

    I loved JetBlue at Long Beach, but the local NIMBYs drove them away with their stupid noise ordinances that prohibited JetBlue from, among other things, implementing international routes.

    The locals basically dared them to move away and JetBlue called their bluff.

  11. @Kevin – if you look at the data, Long Beach is in the right. JetBlue often times broke city mandated noise ordinances and curfews. Often times night flights from the East Coast would arrive well past midnight, a blatant violation of the rules.

  12. @Kevin – you’re exactly right.

    As long as they stay at BUR, I’m happy. (And I think they will; a lot of us are willing to pay a premium to fly from Burbank.)

  13. > LGB was like a private terminal for jetBlue, and it is a tranquil, well-run, well-designed airport that is free of all of the annoyances of LAX.

    Thiiiis. On the one hand I understand consolidating, and the marketing value of “Los Angeles.” OTOH, LAX is miserable and traffic clogged, and no one would choose to use it if they had an alternative closer to where in the LA area they are actually going (eg. BUR for downtown or the valley, or the San Gabriel Valley; LGB, SNA for points south; ONT for east).

  14. @John

    It wasn’t just the noise ordinance issue that drove JetBlue away. The locals also prohibited them from constructing a customs facilities so they could operate flights to Mexico and other international destinations.

    In addition, they imposed draconian slot utilization rules knowing that JetBlue would be affected the most due to having the most slots.

  15. The new people mover is under construction at LAX. Whilst it was busy with almost 90 million pax, and commentators above allude to pre covid traffic on the “ horseshoe “ it will not be the same I’ve been many times and never once had an issue with congestion. Granted LGB is a large airport and could potentially handle long hauls as the main runway is 10000 feet , but restricted

  16. LAX is going to be a different place in a few years when the people mover is finished. Removing the rental car buses in the horseshoe (even just that alone) will make a dramatic impact on the experience of getting to and leaving the airport.

  17. >>LAX is going to be a different place in a few years when the people mover is finished. Removing the rental car buses in the horseshoe (even just that alone) will make a dramatic impact on the experience of getting to and leaving the airport.

    While all of the improvements at LAX are something to look forward to… in the long run– the traffic in the Los Angeles area is not going to improve in any of our lifetimes. The ability to get to and from LAX (unless you live or need to go somewhere within 5-10 miles of the airport) is getting worse and and worse. When you have to set aside 1.5-2 hours to travel to and from the airport due to traffic is a huge issue. This is why the multitudes of local airports (BUR, LGB, ONT, and SNA) help to ease the traffic and spread out the needs of a population of 15 million people.

    Regional airports like LGB, BUR, ONT, and SNA can be very competitive for this region alone.

  18. Seems like LGB will welcome a larger WN presence now. While I hate that B6 is leaving LGB it’s not like the airport is going to whither away and close. DL/AA might have an interest in increasing frequencies there as well.

  19. Long Beach city Council a few years ago shot themselves in the foot by denying a customs facility that JetBlue wanted so they could start flights to Mexico

  20. I love LGB and detest LAX. During that brief moment in time when Jet Blue flew from IAD to LGB, I went out of my way to take that flight instead of United or American to LAX.

  21. @jaymanlb

    They’ve probably crunched the numbers and decided they’ll be ok without your business. I’m sure they’ll really miss you though.

  22. Meanwhile, this on May 28 from Southwest:

    Southwest Airlines announced today that it will begin daily, nonstop flights from Long Beach Airport (LGB) to Austin and Phoenix. The move significantly enhances nationwide connections and nearly doubles the number of Southwest’s one-stop destinations from LGB.

    “We thank Southwest Airlines for their vote of confidence in our airport and in our local economy,” said Mayor Robert Garcia. “Long Beach Airport is an economic engine for the region that is key to our financial recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.”

    The new daily flights will begin in November and will consist of one daily flight to Austin and three daily flights to Phoenix. LGB currently has 16 nonstop destinations, although some services are temporarily suspended due to COVID-19. Austin is also served by JetBlue and Phoenix is also served by American Airlines.

  23. Living in Orange County, LGB is the airport to use if I’m flying Coach to east coast. Well bye bye JetBlue.

  24. B6 is clearly pushing for the business market. LGB may have been convenient for locals but most businesses travelers prefer LAX. My guess is the airfares justify this change too as WN is the only other major tenant at LGB. B6 is consolidating its west coast footprint likely to add # of daily flights. They pulled out of OAK and consolidated at SFO and now this.

    I’m just hoping this could acmean flights to/from Hawaii in the future. (Shh, I don’t want to hear about low yields.)

  25. >>>I’m just hoping this could acmean flights to/from Hawaii in the future. (Shh, I don’t want to hear about low yields.)

    jetBlue is partnered with Hawaiian Airlines for feed to Hawaii. There is a flight from LGB to HNL now on Hawaiian for jetBlue to feed. But when they move to LAX, they will partner with Hawaiian which shares the same LAX terminal (5). I would not expect them to fly their own metal to Hawaii.

  26. Always chose LGB over LAX whenever Jet Blue flight was available. For me, Jet Blue will never be the best option flying in and out of LAX. As for LAX being “world class”, well maybe in the 1960s. Place is a nightmare.

  27. Aw man, my favorite airlines leaves my airport 🙁

    I hope JetBlue understands that true LA locals go out of their way to fly at smaller airports like BUR/LGB. Hopefully they’ll be able to expand operations at Burbank, which is dominated by Southwest

  28. @Terry,
    Last summer Jet Blue announced that they would no longer fly DCA-CHS after October, but their website continued to show the flights for the longest time. They did, however, block you from booking those flights. Have you tried to book SFO-LGB for January? I’ll bet you get an error message.

  29. I was hoping they would buff up Ontario instead of LAX. ONT has no major east coast routes and has customs for flights to Mexico they B6 wanted to start. They could turn ONT to their fortress west coast hub. Anything but LAX

  30. You can chalk up this loss of service from LGB to Long Beach Mayor Garcia and his City Council. I guess JetBlue didn’t feather their war chests enough during the last election cycle because they have been hounding the carrier for quite sometime and bowed to the NIMBYS surrounding the airport. It leaves few options and all but kills most direct flights to the east coast. I often went JetBlue to SFO due to the good service and pleasant airport experience and I’m not sure whether Southwest will pick up the slack since they already have flights, (inexplicably), to Oakland. It’s time to buy a new car and drive since the prospect of departing from LAX is a fate I wouldn’t wish on anyone. The only thing I like about LAX is the original Theme Building with it’s optimistic ‘Jetsons’ architecture, alas a relic of a better time.

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