JetBlue drops Baltimore from route map, cuts several New York routes

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JetBlue is cutting several routes – and dropping one city altogether – as it tweaks its route map in an effort to improve profitability.

The airline will end all service to Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI) on May 1. JetBlue also will cut or suspend several other routes.

The news was first reported by CNBC, citing an internal memo to staff from Dave Jehn, JetBlue’s vice president of network planning and airline partnerships.

Other cuts include the end of nonstop service from New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) to Portland in Oregon and San Jose in California as well as the suspension of flights from JFK to Milwaukee and Ponce, Puerto Rico beginning this fall. Also on the chopping block, according to the memo, is JetBlue’s nonstop route between Westchester County Airport (HPN) in New York and Martha’s Vineyard Airport in Massachusetts.  Aside from BWI, the carrier will still serve those cities from its other bases.

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“We can’t fly everywhere we’d like, so we need to be highly selective about where we point our aircraft in order to turn a profit, support our overall network strategy, and offer a reliable operation,” CNBC quotes Jehn as saying in the memo.

News of the service cuts comes just three days after the Justice Department blocked JetBlue’s plan to merge with Spirit Airlines. However, JetBlue says the timing is coincidental.

“The changes we are announcing today have been in the works for nearly a month – long before we got the court’s decision on our acquisition of Spirit Airlines,” the airline said in a statement to TPG.

JetBlue said the cuts “are a necessary quick step to help return our business to profitability. All the routes included have recently underperformed our expectations and these changes come as post-COVID travel patterns continue to evolve.”

Previous cuts: JetBlue cuts 14 routes, drops a city in big network shake-up

Additionally, JetBlue said the cutting of flights was also made “with an eye towards reliability.”

“By removing some of our less in-demand flights, we will give our operation more breathing room as we plan for air traffic control challenges in the northeast,” the airline said in its statement. “Lengthening turn times and allowing more buffer into the system will help get customers where they need to go, with less chance of delays.”

Like all big airlines, JetBlue regularly updates its route map – adding new flights that it thinks will do well and cutting others that haven’t lived up to expectations.

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In addition to those regular adjustments, JetBlue’s network has been in flux since its Northeast Alliance with American Airlines ended this summer – another court setback dealt to the airline by the Department of Justice.

While it was in effect, the alliance allowed JetBlue and American to collaborate on flights from the New York and Boston airports. In New York, where JFK and LaGuardia (LGA) airports are slot controlled, the carriers used some of each other’s slots to build out their alliance schedules – something that then had to be unwound with the forced ending of the pact.

Most recently, JetBlue announced in October that it was cutting 14 routes – including some that it launched from LGA with American’s slots – and dropping all service from Burlington, Vermont.

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