JetBlue is the BOSs in Red Sox city

Image: JetBlue deals to Boston, MA
Image: Boston Red Sox
The Boston Red Sox have won the Baseball World Series twice in the three years since JetBlue began services from Boston Logan airport, after previously having waited 86 years for a win.

In just three and a half years since JetBlue began services from Boston Logan airport (BOS), it has grown rapidly to become the largest single domestic airline at the airport. During this time, the Boston Red Sox have also twice won the World Series having previously waited 86 years for a win. Maybe JetBlue can take some of the credit! Despite this meteoric rise, JetBlue has maintained load factors consistently around 80% while developing its network to its current 27 destinations.

Chart: JetBlue at Boston Load Factors 2004 - 2007
Source: Derived from US BTS Data

With its Florida-focused network, the airline is vulnerable to the seasonal high-winds and hurricanes which typically occur around September. This explains the annual dip in traffic at that time of year. Hurricane Charley in 2004 was particularly damaging to JetBlue as, at that time, its Boston network was even more focused on Florida than in subsequent years.

New York, Florida and California are key markets

JetBlue serves a range of short-haul, medium-haul and trans-continental routes from BOS with its fleet of A320s and Embraer 190s, with particular focus on Florida, California and its main base at New York’s JFK airport.

Map: Boston Key Markets

In terms of passenger numbers, New York was the busiest route in 2006 with nearly 600,000 passengers (around 18% of all JetBlue traffic from Boston) followed by Orlando and Fort Lauderdale, which each generated over 300,000 passengers. The five routes to Florida accounted for nearly 40% of all traffic in 2006. West Coast routes delivered another 20% of traffic, with the rest of the network comprising just over 20%.

Chart: JetBlue’s Biggest Routes from Boston 2006
Source: Derived from US BTS Data

JetBlue usually price-leader

Analysis of data from the US DOT shows that JetBlue has invariably been the cheapest airline operating on its major routes from Boston. Only on Florida routes during 2006 was JetBlue beaten on price consistently by Delta’s ‘song’ flights. Since song was abandoned in the summer of 2006, JetBlue has regained its position as price leader.

Image: JetBlue Route
JetBlue serves a range of short-haul, medium-haul and trans-continental routes from BOS with its fleet of A320s and Embraer 190s.
Chart: JetBlue Average one-way fares
Source: US DOT Office Of Aviation Analysis

Taking into account sector length (shown in brackets), average fares over the last four quarters show that West Coast flights are, not surprisingly, the most expensive from Boston. More surprisingly, average fares to Las Vegas are similar to those achieved on routes to Florida, despite Las Vegas being twice as far to travel.

According to the US Office of Aviation Analysis, despite JetBlue’s presence, average fares at Boston are still some 5% to 10% above the national average when adjusted for stage length. This is primarily down to short-haul markets. On longer-haul markets where JetBlue has a major presence fares are around the national average.

Mixed fleet proves useful

The mix of 150-seat A320s and 100-seat Embraer 190s has proven useful in the Boston market as JetBlue uses both depending on the route. The table below shows, for this winter’s network, which routes are operated by which aircraft and with what weekly frequencies.

Aircraft Route
A320 only Aruba (1), Cancun (4), Denver (6), Las Vegas (7), Long Beach (13), Oakland (10), West Palm Beach (15), Fort Myers (18), San Diego (7), Seattle (7), San Francisco (7), San Jose (7), San Juan (4)
Embraer 190 only Austin (7), Bermuda (3), Buffalo (17), Charlotte (7), Columbus (7), Nassau (4), Pittsburgh (14), Raleigh/Durham (7), Richmond (14),
Combination Fort Lauderale (A18, E3), Washington Dulles (A3, E30), New York JFK (A30, E25), Orlando (A28, E4), Tampa (A11, E3)
Source: OAG Max Online for w/c 29 Oct 07

In total, A320s operate 196 weekly departures and the E190s 145. On some of the highest frequency routes, JetBlue uses a combination of the two aircraft types depending on the time of day and day of the week.

Developing international routes

Unlike Southwest, which so far has not ventured outside the US domestic market, JetBlue has embraced international operations. Since the beginning of 2006 it has started flights from Boston to Nassau in the Bahamas (February 2006), Cancun in Mexico (March 2007), Bermuda (May 2007) and Aruba (June 2007).

The most recent domestic destinations that have been added are daily flights to Charlotte and San Francisco (in May) and San Diego (in June). In total the airline has added 15 new destinations in an 18-month period. However, it was recently revealed that services to Columbus, Ohio would be dropped in January after not much more than a year. It is unclear whether the launch in May of double-daily Skybus services from Columbus to Portsmouth Pease International airport (PSM), some 44 miles from Boston, had any impact on this decision.

15% share of domestic traffic

According to US BTS data, JetBlue has around a 15% market share of domestic traffic at BOS in the first seven months of 2007.

Airline Passenger Share
JetBlue 15.0%
Delta 14.2% (+4.2% from Comair)
American 14.0% (+3.0% from American Eagle)
US Airways 13.5% (+2.0% from America West)
United 10.6%
AirTran 6.6%
Continental 4.8%
Northwest 4.3%
Source: Derived from US BTS data for January to July 2007

Although this table ranks JetBlue first, it should be noted that Delta, American and US Airways could all claim to be bigger at BOS if the traffic from their subsidiaries or partner airlines is added in. Delta would rise to 18.4% if Comair is included, American would increase to 17% if American Eagle is included and US Airways grows to 15.5% if America West is included. It may, therefore, take JetBlue a little longer to become the undisputed leader of the pack at BOS.


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