Tuesday, 23 October 2007

Out of the Tub…JetBlue Overflies Hub

Just as my mother used to push the boundaries of our tub’s capacity by squeezing at least three of her five children in a bath at one time, so too have airlines stretched New York JFK to its scheduling limits. To unmuddy the waters, the US government has vowed to intervene at JFK and is expected to release details of a scheme after meeting with airlines today and tomorrow in Washington DC. Inhabitants at JFK already know what to expect; the FAA last week released a set of proposed schedule reduction targets for peak hours at the facility.

US major airlines, represented by lobbying group the Air Transport Association, hit back today, saying it’s clear the government intends to cut or cap flights rather than to allow the carriers to agree on schedule changes. A calm voice amidst the clatter, however, was a somewhat unlikely subject. JetBlue, which alongside Delta is largely responsible for JFK’s evolution from a international gateway to a domestic hub, said it welcomes the government’s assistance. And one more thing, it’s going to focus on over-flying JFK – meaning, the carrier is going to increasingly avoid it’s own hub by adding point-to-point service down the East Coast such as between Syracuse, New York and Orlando, Florida.

JetBlue CEO Dave Barger says that of the 12 new routes being introduced between November and January, only two – to Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic and St Maarten – will “touch JFK”. Plans are in place to terminate service at Columbus, Ohio (home of no-frills start-up Skybus Airlines) and Nashville, Tennessee, two markets “tied to” JFK. Tied to? Barger's verbiage begs the question: With all the problems at JFK, is JetBlue rethinking its choice of tub? Check out my article at http://www.flightglobal.com/articles/2007/10/23/218864/jetblue-to-axe-columbus-and-nashville-focus-on-jfk-over-flights.html

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