JetBlue announced 30 new routes on Thursday, citing a return of some travel demand as Americans emerge from lockdowns and quarantines.
While demand is still well below 2019 levels, JetBlue said it’s noticed an uptick in demand for travel between markets based on leisure travel, and from lockdown-weary people looking to visit friends and relatives, often referred to as “VFR” travelers.
The routes are mainly based around the airline’s focus cities and airports in the New York City metropolitan area and Florida. Newark Liberty International Airport, in New Jersey, will see nine of the new routes added. The full list of new routes can be seen at the bottom of this story.
JetBlue also said it would add its Mint business class product to flights between Newark and Los Angeles, and Newark and San Francisco. The flights will represent the first time Mint service has been available out of Newark — JetBlue has primarily based Mint-equipped planes out of New York’s JFK airport.
In a press release, the airline said that the new routes would require it to bring several grounded planes back into service, as well as generate revenue.
“Coronavirus has transformed airline route maps, and as we begin to see small signs of recovery, we continue to be flexible with our network plans to respond to demand trends and generate cash in support of our business,” Scott Laurence, the airline’s head of revenue and planning, said in a press release. “We’ve selected routes where customers are showing some interest in travel again and where our low fares and award-winning experience will be noticed.”
While leisure and VFR travel demand has made notable improvements since reaching historic lows in April, it still remains well below 2019 levels, and business travel has not yet begun a meaningful recovery. Despite the uptick, there are also concerns about a second wave of the virus reversing the trend in the fall or sooner.
Airlines have consequently focused on rebuilding their networks around leisure destinations and VFR market demands. American Airlines, for instance, restored 55% of its domestic capacity for July. The airline’s restored flights are primarily between its hubs and destinations with national parks or beaches, and the airline said it was prepared to add flights to theme parks in Florida as they begin to reopen.
The new routes will begin flying between July and October. Here is a complete list of routes and start dates:
Starting July 23:
Newark – Los Angeles, CA; San Francisco, CA; Charleston, SC; and Jacksonville, FL
New York JFK – Dallas-Fort Worth, TX; and Detroit, MI (DTW)
Starting August 6:
Newark – Austin, TX; Las Vegas, NV, Phoenix, AZ; San Diego, CA; and Sarasota-Bradenton, FL
New York JFK – Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN
New York LaGuardia – Fort Myers, FL; and Tampa, FL
Philadelphia – Fort Myers, FL; Orlando, FL; San Juan, Puerto Rico; West Palm Beach, FL
Starting October 1:
Fort Lauderdale – Pittsburgh, PA; Portland, OR; and Seattle-Tacoma, WA
Fort Myers – Cleveland, OH; and Providence, RI
New York JFK – St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands
Orlando – San Francisco, CA
Tampa – Providence, RI; and Reagan National Airport, Washington DC
West Palm Beach – Chicago O’Hare, IL; and Pittsburgh, PA