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JetBlue CEO Robin Hayes provides an update on the northeast alliance and action by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ)
PUBLISHED ON 2021-09-22 12:52:00 EST Reshma
JetBlue [JBLU] CEO Robin Hayes today issued the following message to the airline’s 20,000 crewmembers:
COVID-19 has thrown unimaginable challenges at us, and we’ve worked together to manage them every step of the way. We played defense to reduce spending and maintain our 21-year no furlough commitment, but we also went on the offense by investing in new routes and BlueCities that bring more of JetBlue’s competitive effect and low fares to the market. Our Northeast Alliance (NEA) with American Airlines [AAL] is an example of how we played offense to not only get our fleet and Crewmembers flying again, but also set up JetBlue for long-term growth and bring more competition to the Northeast.
Given our focus on the NEA, I wanted to talk about action the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) is taking in federal court to unwind the NEA. Regardless of what the DOJ claims about us in court and in the media, it’s important you know that JetBlue’s commitment to competition and low fares remains as strong as ever. This is not at all like a merger with American – we have two different business models and are not working together on pricing. It’s also important that you have the full picture on benefits the NEA is already delivering, and I want to reassure you that the DOJ’s action will not affect our plans to continue implementing the NEA.
Many things set JetBlue apart, but our “secret sauce” is our 20,000 passionate and caring Crewmembers who believe a small airline like ours can continue to make a big difference. Each of you deliver a simple but extraordinary value proposition – that no one should have to choose between a low fare and a great experience. By bringing this to life for 21 years, you’ve helped us build a much-loved low-fare brand and a reputation for shaking up the status quo, challenging the competition to raise their game.
Even though our low fares and great service benefit travelers, it hasn’t always been easy to get our foot in the door at the largest and most important congested airports where the big airlines dominate. We’ve had to fight our way into airports like Los Angeles (LAX), Newark, Atlanta, Miami and others where the “JetBlue Effect” of lowering fares and stimulating new demand is badly needed.
If there is a silver lining to the pandemic’s impact on our industry, it’s that space freed up for us to introduce competition in airports like LAX and Miami, and we’re setting ourselves up for long-term success at London Heathrow, where we recently launched our transformative transatlantic service. I’m so proud of how far we’ve come, but there is still plenty of opportunity for us to shake up the market with more competition, especially in the Northeast where Customers who know and love JetBlue keep asking for us to grow.
While we have built a successful business in both New York and Boston, our runway for growth in the Northeast to challenge global legacy carriers Delta and United is limited. And I’m sad to say that our biggest obstacle to bringing more low fares and great service to the Northeast right now is the DOJ – the very government agency that should be making every effort to foster robust competition among airlines.
In New York’s airports, there has been quite literally no room for us to add flights. There are no slots available at LGA and JFK, and it remains extremely difficult to grow in Newark given gate and space constraints. Delta and United – with large international networks, ample financial resources, and significant airport gate and slot holdings – have a lock on the market and make it impossible for an airline like JetBlue to grow and introduce sorely needed low-fare competition. In Boston, Customers really love flying JetBlue, but our sales pitch is hampered by a relative lack of network breadth and depth compared to the deep-pocketed legacy airline that plans to grow even further there.
These obstacles to growth led us to an unlikely alliance with American Airlines which, even as the world’s largest carrier, also has not been able to compete with Delta and United’s dominance in the Northeast.
JetBlue Corporate Communications