JetBlue Cuts Flights as Air Travel Rises
In September 2020, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, JetBlue Airways announced that it was introducing 24 new domestic leisure routes to include the West Coast. Business and international travel had come to an abrupt halt, but people still wanted to visit family and friends. This was considered a historic move for Richmond due to years of attempting to land a number of direct fights for business and leisure travel to and from the city. JetBlue was one of the first airlines during the pandemic to add leisure-oriented point-to-point flying to cities, such as Richmond, Raleigh, and Austin, to generate much- needed revenue.
JetBlue has recently updated many of its schedules and is cutting some of those flights that were considered as a ‘temporary’ pandemic-era strategy, opting to revert to higher-yield opportunities. Core cities, such as New York and Boston, are reopening and competition among airlines in large markets is growing.
More than 30 of JetBlue’s routes are being permanently cut or will see seasonal reductions. These routes include flights from Los Angeles to Richmond, and from Richmond to Las Vegas. JetBlue Airways still expects flying will increase by three-percent over October 2019 and will launch 40 new routes in the coming months, including the launch of flights to London.
On Friday, June 11, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) recorded more than two million leisure passengers taking to the airways across the country. This marks the first time that the number of passengers has exceeded two million in one day since the start of the pandemic in March 2020.
2019 was one of the best years on record for the airline industry, and data comparing 2021 numbers to 2019, pre-COVID, shows the gap in air travel is narrowing. Seventy-five percent as many passengers have passed through security checkpoints in 2021 compared to 2019 and this indicates a strong recovery in air travel. The numbers should continue to improve with the return of business and international travel.