JetBlue Flight Slots Available

By: 
Kirt Ramirez

With the dominant JetBlue Airways leaving Long Beach for LAX in October, Long Beach officials are optimistic that other airlines will take over the vacated flight slots.

Three airlines have been on a waiting list for getting permanent flight slots with Southwest Airlines first in line, according to a City of Long Beach press release. Hawaiian Airlines is second on the list to be offered spaces and Delta Air Lines is third in line.

As of Monday, it was unknown whether any of the three carriers desire to acquire slots during the current COVID-19 pandemic, which has seen a decline in air travel.

“One slot will be offered to each of the airlines, in addition to any new entrants, in order until all the slots are allocated,” the city press release indicates. “Once a slot becomes available, the airport has 30 days to allocate the slot to the requesting carrier.”

Long Beach Airport has a total of 53 flight slots with 41 of them being permanent. JetBlue will vacate 17 of the permanent slots.

“Our passengers cherish the boutique travel experience we offer, with ample outdoor space and an easygoing atmosphere,” Long Beach Airport Director Cynthia Guidry said in a statement. “We are well-positioned to continue as an airport of choice for Southern California and we look forward to hearing from air carriers about their interest in our available flight slots.”

Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia said in a statement, “We have a waiting list at Long Beach Airport with multiple air carriers and demand remains strong. Once air travel recovers from the COVID-19 crisis, we look forward to a strong recovery.”

JetBlue and the city have had a questionable relationship especially after the city council’s 2017 decision to deny approval of international flights at the airport.

With the virus added into the mix, JetBlue is now moving on.

“The impact of COVID-19 on our industry has forced us to take a hard look at our remaining Long Beach Airport operation, which continues to financially underperform our network despite various efforts through the years – including seeking to bring international flights – in order to make the airport succeed,” JetBlue Manager of Corporate Communications Philip Stewart said in a statement.

“With new opportunities available to us at Los Angeles International Airport we will move our remaining Long Beach flights, along with crew and maintenance bases, on October 7. After nearly two decades, our last day of flying at Long Beach will be October 6. The move to LAX will help increase our revenue, which is essential as we work through a long and challenging coronavirus recovery.”

The low-cost travel company, based in New York, hopes to grow.

“With LAX serving as the anchor of our Los Angeles focus city we can fulfill our growth ambitions in greater LA and, in the longer term, offer international flying that is not possible in Long Beach,” Stewart said.

“While we recognize it is bittersweet to say farewell to a community that’s been part of our company’s story from our earliest days, this move is the right one for JetBlue and our future as we think about our next decade of growth. We look forward to very bright days ahead as we continue to grow (at) LAX where a warm welcome mat by the airport and the community has always greeted JetBlue,” he added.

Airport Director Guidry said in a previous statement July 9, “We will always be grateful for the investment JetBlue made in our community and the tremendous service they offered our passengers. We understand that the aviation industry – now more than ever – is constantly changing and airlines nationwide are making difficult business decisions to stay competitive in light of the pandemic. We expect strong interest in the slots as they become available.”

kirt@beachcomber.news

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