JetBlue Touts Fort Lauderdale Growth, Europe Flights

JetBlue Touts Fort Lauderdale Growth, Europe Flights

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JetBlue is promising significant expansion in South Florida. While that sounds exciting, personally I wouldn’t read too much into this, as the airline clearly has a motive with making these claims…

JetBlue outlines Fort Lauderdale expansion plans

JetBlue has this week firmly announced one new route out of Fort Lauderdale, as the airline will add a daily flight to Tallahassee in 2024. Somehow this announcement is being spun into something much bigger than that, though, as JetBlue is outlining its long term vision for South Florida.

JetBlue is in the process of acquiring Spirit, and the airline is promising to offer 250 daily flights from Fort Lauderdale by 2027. It’s argued that both JetBlue and Spirit have had success in Fort Lauderdale, but the two airlines working together will unlock long term opportunities to add domestic and international markets and routes that wouldn’t otherwise be possible:

  • JetBlue would offer flights to 30 markets not currently served by either JetBlue or Spirit from Fort Lauderdale, and it would add more frequencies to approximately 30 additional markets
  • JetBlue and Spirit currently serve 66 of the top 100 markets available from Miami Airport, though if the merger is approved, the two airlines would serve 90 of the top 100 markets available from Miami Airport
  • JetBlue would launch service between Fort Lauderdale and Europe using its Airbus A321XLRs
  • JetBlue claims that a number of new routes would be economical if the merger were approved, including flights to Antigua, Belize, Cincinnati, Liberia, Minneapolis, Memphis, and Savannah

A lot of this growth would be possible thanks to the addition of a new Terminal 5 at Fort Lauderdale Airport, which would be a five gate facility with a connection to Terminal 4. The plan is for this to be completed by mid-2026.

Fort Lauderdale Airport Terminal 4

Of course it’s exciting to think that JetBlue could also fly across the Atlantic from Fort Lauderdale. JetBlue is currently taking delivery of 14 Airbus A321LRs, which the airline is using to fly from Boston and New York to Europe. The airline also has 13 Airbus A321XLRs on order, which are even longer range. These would easily be able to fly from Fort Lauderdale to Europe.

JetBlue Airbus A321LR Mint business class cabin

JetBlue is trying really hard to justify its merger

The $3.8 billion merger between JetBlue and Spirit was announced in July 2022. The airlines are expecting to face regulatory hurdles with getting this approved, and it’s even expected that the Department of Justice will move to block this merger.

So it’s not surprising that JetBlue is spending a lot of time right now talking about the consumer benefits of a merger. Still, I can’t help but question the approach JetBlue is taking here in trying to justify the merger, because I think the airline is really grasping at straws.

I find JetBlue’s approach to be interesting here. The airline is announcing a single new intra-Florida route that will launch nearly a year in the future, and it’s to Florida’s capital. Usually a domestic route wouldn’t be announced that far in advance. Is this just being done as a political play? After all, the airline even quotes Florida Governor Ron DeSantis about how JetBlue is bringing low fares to Florida.

Then the airline goes on to explain how it will expand to 250 daily flights in Fort Lauderdale, but that’s only possible if the merger is approved. So JetBlue couldn’t make Fort Lauderdale to London flights work if it weren’t for the merger with Spirit? And can the airline really claim in good conscience that a Fort Lauderdale to Minneapolis route will be viable in 2027 with the merger, but wouldn’t be without it?

I can appreciate why JetBlue is trying so hard to make this merger seem like it has public benefit, but I find a lot of the claims here to be quite dubious. Some routes aren’t possible right now due to lack of gate space in Fort Lauderdale, and due to lack of available planes. But to claim that these would be possible four years down the road only if a merger is approved is highly questionable.

JetBlue is making a lot of questionable growth claims

Bottom line

JetBlue is promising that it will operate 250 daily flights from Fort Lauderdale by 2027, assuming the merger with Spirit is approved. Furthermore, the airline is saying the merger with Spirit will allow it to operate flights between Fort Lauderdale and Europe.

While it’s nice to see that JetBlue wants to grow in South Florida, I don’t buy the company’s talking points about all of this growth only being possible if a merger is approved. Suggesting that a Fort Lauderdale to London to Fort Lauderdale to Minneapolis flight would be possible four years down the road, but only if the merger is approved, just doesn’t add up.

What do you make of this JetBlue announcement about Fort Lauderdale expansion?

Conversations (18)
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  1. Paper Boarding Pass Guest

    The only other space for terminal expansion would be to build west of terminal 3 similar to what LAX did with its International terminal. I'm sure this is buried somewhere in the master plan for 2030 or beyond. An additional runway would also be appreciated. It would be parallel to 10R/28L just to the south of the airport. Again, I'm sure this also buried somewhere in the master plan for 2035. Since MIA is such a mess, it couldn't come soon enough.

    1. Paper Boarding Pass Guest

      Also, B6 needs to install club lounges at its hubs/focus cities in order to mature. Access could be limited to Mint customers as well as top tier loyalty PAX Don't want to get into the AMEX/Delta mash up of the last few years.

  2. Eric Guest

    As Ben said, “jetBlue is grasping @ straws.” Very likely that the DOJ will not approve this Union.

  3. Stuart Guest

    So the Terminal 5 Expansion is really just redoing the high T4 gates that used to serve the little props. Plus that is literally the last bit of area that they could make into a terminal without it going over Federal Highway (US1). So I guess good that they are getting the terminal.

    In terms of FLL and JetBlue/Spirit, the question really becomes with this merger how competitive both airlines would be on their own....

    So the Terminal 5 Expansion is really just redoing the high T4 gates that used to serve the little props. Plus that is literally the last bit of area that they could make into a terminal without it going over Federal Highway (US1). So I guess good that they are getting the terminal.

    In terms of FLL and JetBlue/Spirit, the question really becomes with this merger how competitive both airlines would be on their own.

    They are already competing against Southwest/Allegiant over in Terminal 1 and Delta's strong presence which has kinda created a micro-hub for them in Terminal 2.

    I think though the logic to say oh we can make more flights profitable. The question is how? Its really too far unless they think of Lisbon or Spain to run the 321LR for flights to London and Paris. Hell BA tried it with LGW-FLL and there just wasn't enough demand [mainly 80-90 pax on a 777 taking off from the North Runway.

    There really also if JETBLUE/SPIRIT want to expand yea you just added 5 gates to a nice but small Terminal 4 complex with the connector over to Terminal 3 where JetBlue owns Concourse F and almost half of Concourse E with American having a few gates as well. I guess time will tell to see what will actually happen.

  4. KingBob Guest

    Merger?
    Not going to happen.
    And that AA/B6 partnership is anti-competitive too and needs to be ended.

    1. Lieflat19 Member

      then they should disband AA and US Airways and America West before that, disband United/continental, and disband Delta and Northwest...

  5. SMR Guest

    Lucky ,

    JetBlue needs the merger to make Europe happen. They need massive connecting feed coupled with O and D travel to keep the route profitable year round. Fuel cost will be much higher than NY and the routes from FL can’t sustain low yells/low load factors. The spirit merger would bolster connecting traffic , especially to Europe. Yes… TLH and the timing is to help appease feds but they have to do that !...

    Lucky ,

    JetBlue needs the merger to make Europe happen. They need massive connecting feed coupled with O and D travel to keep the route profitable year round. Fuel cost will be much higher than NY and the routes from FL can’t sustain low yells/low load factors. The spirit merger would bolster connecting traffic , especially to Europe. Yes… TLH and the timing is to help appease feds but they have to do that ! It is 100% true that the FLL growth can’t be sustained in the way promises without the merger and they cannot grow to 250 flights in 4 years without the merger. The tone of your email implies the entire announcement is pretty much fake.

  6. Iamhere Guest

    The real issue if the merger goes through is that JetBlue is part of OneWorld with American so then South Florida basically becomes largely a OneWorld hub.

    1. OCTinPHL Diamond

      JetBlue is not part of Oneworld. Yes, it has the NEA with American and reciprocal elite benefits, but that is a far cry from being in OW.

  7. SMR Guest

    Why should JetBlue have to even justify the merger. I say shame on out garbage politicians for even considering blocking it. How do small airlines compete against the big guys ?

    What % of FLL will a combined NK/B6 have ? 60% MAX. What % of DFW does AA have ? JetBlue would be competent hard against AA in Miami. AA competes against almost no one in DFW on most routes (I knew WN is...

    Why should JetBlue have to even justify the merger. I say shame on out garbage politicians for even considering blocking it. How do small airlines compete against the big guys ?

    What % of FLL will a combined NK/B6 have ? 60% MAX. What % of DFW does AA have ? JetBlue would be competent hard against AA in Miami. AA competes against almost no one in DFW on most routes (I knew WN is at DAL).

    What % does UA get in IAH?
    What % does DL get in ATL and SLC?
    What % does WN get in DAL?

    All of these airlines have many mega hubs. What does JetBlue have ? I agree that B6/NK will struggle on their own and continue to make paltry profits. If they merge they can actually create a competing route network. Unfortunately no airline can just get 400 plans and 50000 pilots right now.

    Spirit isn’t that cheap. There are many days I see their fares are higher than B6. Their product turns atelast half the flying public. I have friends that drive to MIA to pay AA for flights to Central America to avoid Spirit. The merger creates an actual competing airline with a darn good coach product.

    1. OCTinPHL Diamond

      Did AA grow DFW organically or through merger? That’s the difference.
      WN owns DAL because it grew it. Not merger. These fortress hubs may be competitively unfair (AA drives competitors out by lowering fares), but not because of mergers.

      JetBlue Spirit combo will dominate FLL and MCO. See: https://airserviceone.com/jetblue-and-spirit-currently-compete-head-to-head-on-over-40-routes-mostly-from-airports-in-florida/

    2. Lieflat19 Member

      so what if they dominate FLL and MCO? What is the difference between that and United at IAH/IAD, AA at DFW/CLT, DL at SLC/ATL? Theoretically most airlines will dominate their main hub...How is it fair to NOT allow this merger but they allowed all those others. Precedence has been set.

    3. OCTinPHL Diamond

      Because both are in Florida. Too many armchair antitrust attorneys here…

    4. SMR Guest

      Your comments are fake news....All the legacies grew through MANY mergers. B6 has never merged with anyone and they have fought and survived watching all the other airlines merge. EVERY SINGLE B6 competitor except maybe Allegiant has grown through massive mergers. Fair is fair and this merger does not even create ONE fortress hub. FLL will remain extremely competitive with WN/Allegiant/Frontier across the tarmac and AA down the road. Consumers will win because pricing will...

      Your comments are fake news....All the legacies grew through MANY mergers. B6 has never merged with anyone and they have fought and survived watching all the other airlines merge. EVERY SINGLE B6 competitor except maybe Allegiant has grown through massive mergers. Fair is fair and this merger does not even create ONE fortress hub. FLL will remain extremely competitive with WN/Allegiant/Frontier across the tarmac and AA down the road. Consumers will win because pricing will still have to be aggressive and you get one bigger route network with a much better product. There is ZERO legal recourse to block this merger. Massive over extension of government. The big 3 also have pretty decent size ops at FLL.

    5. OCTinPHL Diamond

      Dude, fake news? I am replying to your comment about FLL. You clearly do not understand antitrust law.

  8. Tim Dunn Diamond

    All of this simply points out that the real problem w/ the merger is not NYC and BOS as JBLU has tried to argue was the problem. Even without divesting NK's assets, NK is too small to make a difference in BOS and NYC. The problem there is the Northeast Alliance.
    The problem with the B6/NK merger is FLL.
    Neither strategy is viable on its own. B6 would like to believe they can...

    All of this simply points out that the real problem w/ the merger is not NYC and BOS as JBLU has tried to argue was the problem. Even without divesting NK's assets, NK is too small to make a difference in BOS and NYC. The problem there is the Northeast Alliance.
    The problem with the B6/NK merger is FLL.
    Neither strategy is viable on its own. B6 would like to believe they can whitewash the negatives from both and come up w/ something that sticks.

    JBLU is trying to promise that they'll grow FLL after taking out a competitor and making the public pay higher prices. Somehow I doubt this strategy will work.
    JBLU also failed to note that Florida is one of the states that has joined the DOJ in suing to block the B6/NK merger.

  9. Never In Doubt Guest

    Once the government files suit to block a merger, the chances of it happening are very low.

  10. Sharon Guest

    This announcement was full of nothing. I only see the purpose of it to claim in the forthcoming antitrust lawsuit.

    DOJ: we want to block your merger
    Jetblue: but oh.. look how many destinations we could add if we stifle competition!!

    Jetblue's route map in FLL is relatively weak for a Focus City and it hasn't expanded in years. Rather, it has removed routes, such as Aruba and St Martin in recent years.

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SMR Guest

Why should JetBlue have to even justify the merger. I say shame on out garbage politicians for even considering blocking it. How do small airlines compete against the big guys ? What % of FLL will a combined NK/B6 have ? 60% MAX. What % of DFW does AA have ? JetBlue would be competent hard against AA in Miami. AA competes against almost no one in DFW on most routes (I knew WN is at DAL). What % does UA get in IAH? What % does DL get in ATL and SLC? What % does WN get in DAL? All of these airlines have many mega hubs. What does JetBlue have ? I agree that B6/NK will struggle on their own and continue to make paltry profits. If they merge they can actually create a competing route network. Unfortunately no airline can just get 400 plans and 50000 pilots right now. Spirit isn’t that cheap. There are many days I see their fares are higher than B6. Their product turns atelast half the flying public. I have friends that drive to MIA to pay AA for flights to Central America to avoid Spirit. The merger creates an actual competing airline with a darn good coach product.

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OCTinPHL Diamond

Dude, fake news? I am replying to your comment about FLL. You clearly do not understand antitrust law.

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Paper Boarding Pass Guest

Also, B6 needs to install club lounges at its hubs/focus cities in order to mature. Access could be limited to Mint customers as well as top tier loyalty PAX Don't want to get into the AMEX/Delta mash up of the last few years.

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