JetBlue cuts routes spanning Los Angeles to Lima in race to lower costs

JetBlue cuts routes spanning Los Angeles to Lima in race to lower costs

A JetBlue Airways plane prepares to take off from the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on Jan. 31, 2024.

Joe Raedle | Getty Images

JetBlue Airways told staff on Tuesday that it is culling a host of routes, making it the carrier’s latest move to cut costs in the wake of a failed attempt to acquire Spirit Airlines and a Pratt & Whitney engine issue that has grounded some of its Airbus planes.

The carrier will reduce its departures from Los Angeles International Airport from about 34 a day to 24, focusing on profitable transcontinental routes that include its Mint business class cabin, according to a memo to staff, which was seen by CNBC. Cuts include service from Los Angeles to San Francisco; Seattle; Miami; Las Vegas; Reno, Nevada; and Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.

JetBlue is also ending flights to Bogota, Colombia; Quito, Ecuador; Lima, Peru; and Kansas City, Missouri, in June, and flights between Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and Austin, Atlanta, Nashville and Salt Lake City as well as between New York and Detroit.

“With less aircraft time available and the need to improve our financial performance, more than ever, every route has to earn its right to stay in the network,” Dave Jehn, vice president of network planning and airline partnerships, said in the memo.

Along with transcontinental flying, JetBlue said it will focus on “bread and butter” routes along the East Coast, and those serving Caribbean vacation destinations.

CEO Joanna Geraghty is a month into the top job and is under increasing pressure to reduce expenses and return the airline to profitability after activist investor Carl Icahn disclosed a nearly 10% stake in the carrier last month and won two board seats.

JetBlue had already begun a cost-cutting program before Icahn’s stake and said in January that it was on track to reduce expenses by $200 million by the end of the year. The carrier trimmed some other routes earlier this year, CNBC reported.

The changes announced Tuesday don’t affect JetBlue’s planned capacity for the year, which it expects to be down in the low single digits from 2023, the memo said.

JetBlue is charting its path as a stand-alone airline after a judge blocked its plan to purchase Spirit Airlines in January. JetBlue walked away from that deal entirely earlier this month. Last year, a separate judge knocked down its partnership with American Airlines in the Northeast.

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