JetBlue expanding at Logan
Move comes amid cuts by US Airways
One day after US Airways said it will reduce service at Logan International Airport and close its Boston crew base, rival JetBlue Airways announced plans to boost flights out of Boston by 30 percent.
“This is part of a long-term growth strategy that we have in Boston,’’ said David Clark, JetBlue’s director of route planning. “Our plan is to be the largest airline out of Boston in terms of departures and seats.’’
JetBlue, a low-cost airline founded in 1999, already flies to 32 destinations from Boston, the most of any airline. The company plans to add Montego Bay, Jamaica, in January as its 33d stop. It is also adding new flights to other destinations, including Chicago, Baltimore, Denver, San Francisco, and San Diego. JetBlue plans to have all the new flights in operation by next summer, bringing the total per day to around 76 flights, compared with about 59 last summer.
Clark said that JetBlue likes Logan because it isn’t dominated by traditional airline giants such as United Airlines, American Airlines, and Delta Air Lines. It has grown quickly since it began flying from Boston in 2004.
“It was a bit easy to get a foot in the door back in 2004,’’ Clark said. Additionally, he said, JetBlue customers in Boston have asked the company to offer more flights: “The population there is well-educated, it’s discerning.’’
JetBlue’s 10 existing gates at Logan will be sufficient to handle the extra traffic, Clark said. He added that it is unclear whether JetBlue will need to add to its Boston workforce of 1,300.
Meanwhile, about 300 Boston-based US Airways workers face layoffs or reassignment to other cities as the company concentrates on its key hubs in Charlotte, N.C., Philadelphia, Phoenix, and Washington. US Airways said that it expects to eliminate 1,000 jobs companywide in the first half of 2010.
US Airways spokesman Morgan Durrant called the moves “a redeployment of assets where we’re already strong,’’ adding that the JetBlue expansion is irrelevant to his company’s plans.
“What’s good for JetBlue is not necessarily good for US Airways,’’ Durrant said.
Even before the JetBlue announcement, Logan has enjoyed a growth spurt this year. The nation’s biggest low-cost carrier, Southwest Airlines, began service there in August; Virgin America came to town in February; and two smaller airlines, Sun Country and Porter Airlines, have also arrived.
“Boston, I think, is a very good market,’’ said Matthew Brelis, spokesman for the Massachusetts Port Authority, which runs Logan. “People here have money, and there’s a great mix between business travel and leisure travel.’’
Daniel Kasper, head of the transportation practice at the economic research firm LECG LLC in Cambridge, said that JetBlue’s expansion is probably a warning shot aimed at Southwest. “They see Southwest opening up at Logan and want to make sure that they maintain a strong competitive position,’’ Kasper said. “This is putting down a marker that they’re going to fight to protect Boston.’’
Southwest appeared untroubled by the news. “We always welcome the competition, ’’ said company spokesman Paul Flaningan. “Anything that airlines can do to stimulate travel and get people to travel again is a good thing.’’
Hiawatha Bray can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.