JetBlue is discontinuing fourteen routes, primarily in the Northeast, and withdrawing from Burlington, Vermont (BTV). This is a result of the Department of Justice’s decision to end JetBlue’s Northeast Alliance with American Airlines.
The routes will be terminated in two waves: right after the holidays in the first week of January and then in March.
On January 4, 2024, JetBlue will axe its three times daily route between New York’s JFK Airport and Washington, D.C.’s Ronald Reagan National Airport (DCA). It launched the link only in mid-September and said it was “highly requested” by customers.
JetBlue Drops Burlington
Also, in January, JetBlue will stop operations from Burlington entirely. It’s flown twice daily from Vermont’s largest city to JFK since 2000. This route currently accounts for 10% of passengers transiting through Patrick Leahy Burlington International Airport each month, the Vermont Congressional delegation said in a letter to JetBlue CEO Robin Hayes.
The termination of the route “has the potential to harm businesses in our state and make travel for constituents between Vermont and New York significantly more difficult,” the delegation wrote, asking the airline to reverse its decision and, if not, to guarantee refunds to ticket holders.
LaGuardia Axed Flights
JetBlue will also scrap eight flights from New York’s LaGuardia Airport (LGA) to:
- Bermuda (BDA)
- Nashville (BNA)
- Charleston (CHS)
- Denver (DEN)
- Cape Cod (HYA)
- Jacksonville (JAX)
- Portland, Maine (PWM)
- Sarasota (SQR)
Northeast Alliance Termination
Two flights from Boston Logan Airport (BOS) are slated to go – to Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) and Frederick Douglass Greater Rochester International Airport (ROC). A link between Newark and Miami (MIA) will also cease operation.
JetBlue has attributed the cuts to the forced disbanding of its alliance with American Airlines in the region.
The two carriers launched the pact in 2021 to compete against entrenched rivals United and Delta in New York and Boston. The airlines agreed not to compete in the northeast corridor, coordinating their schedules, trading takeoff and landing permissions at LaGuardia, codesharing, and offering frequent flyers reciprocal perks.
The partnership allowed both airlines to launch new domestic and international routes. However, it raised eyebrows at the Department of Justice (DOJ), empowered under President Biden to vigorously enforce antitrust laws, especially in the aviation and technology sectors.
Suing to stop the alliance, the DOJ argued that it reduced competition and would leave travelers paying hundreds of millions of dollars more for airfare in the region each year. JetBlue and American argued that the pact gave travelers more flight options.
In May, the DOJ won the case at the U.S. District Court in Boston, and the alliance has now been disbanded.
As part of the separation, JetBlue has had to return airport slots at LaGuardia to American Airlines. To do so, it’s had to scrap routes or reduce frequencies. Air traffic control centers are so shorthanded that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has allowed carriers to voluntarily drop around 10% of their flights at JFK, LaGuardia, Newark, and Washington National Airport without forfeiting their slots to rivals.
But even as JetBlue is scrapping domestic routes, it’s expanding internationally. On March 13, 2024, JetBlue will inaugurate daily seasonal services from JFK and Boston to Dublin, Ireland (DUB). On May 22, it will introduce a daily seasonal connection between JFK and Edinburgh, Scotland (EDI).
Customers with tickets on routes to be axed will either be offered alternative flight options or receive a full refund on their original payment method.