Can JetBlue Counter the Onslaught of Delta & American at Boston Logan?

American and Delta’s onslaught of JetBlue at Boston Logan (BOS) has become a contention of strategy for JetBlue. Investigative aviation reporter Alex Martinez Rivera has analyzed the situation.

JetBlue’s plans for Transatlantic travel for its focus city of Boston (BOS) couldn’t have come at the worst time.

JetBlue was expecting a fight when Delta designated Logan as a hub. However, can JetBlue withstand a simultaneous assault from Delta and American while the competition strengthens the airport?

JetBlue Plans to London. Video: CBS 2 New York/YouTube.

I called it the first time around but wasn’t expecting to become this crowded

In the article, Delta’s Growth challenges JetBlue to a Battle for the TransAtlantic Customer, I wrote to my readership that Boston Logan (BOS) was the epicenter for a battle royale for the capture of customers and that JetBlue might be the winner.

Fast forward to today, that assessment needs reassessing.

JetBlue versus American and Delta in Boston

Two is a fair fight for one turf, but three (JetBlue, Delta, and American) is a crowd. This is great news for customers. However, the up and coming JetBlue is a novice in the transatlantic market. This battle royale may mean JetBlue losing customers.

Although Steve Priest, the Chief Financial Officer for JetBlue doesn’t seem to display emotion, the pressure might be getting to the company.

“Commentators talk about Boston, they talk about Fort Lauderdale. We are 20 years old now. We are very used to competitive incursions,”

said Steve Priest, JetBlue CFO

JetBlue might be counting this onslaught as a domestic incursion

Unfortunately, it is not.

JetBlue is used to experiencing domestic incursions. Spirit Airlines gave them a run at Fort Lauderdale without success.

Counting Boston Logan as a domestic incursion allows me to sense JetBlue’s naivete at the transatlantic market.

JetBlue is going across the Atlantic, not against one competitor, but against two heavyweights of the industry.

That can be compared to matching Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier against a boxing newcomer. As the “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” chorus says,

“You better watch out, you better not cry, you better not pout, “I’m telling you why.”

Prior to the Merger, Boston Logan was a US Airways Focus City

American Airlines Improvements at Terminal B at Boston Logan. Video: ABC Channel 5/YouTube

It is a back to the roots strategy, what US Airways knew best before the merger with American. Terminal B was a US Airways stronghold before leaving temporarily that strategy.

American is hurt from LATAM leaving Oneworld and being swooped by Delta. However, the Chilean Supreme Court didn’t leave them a choice. What better strategy than to return to what American knows best, which is transatlantic routes.

In addition, the pre-merger American (US Airways) had non-stop routes between Boston (BOS) and London-Heathrow (LHR). So, what is wrong with returning to basics?

Speaking of LATAM, is it a way for American to get back at Delta?

Is it an “if you go to London then I go to London” mentality?

I can’t speak for any American Airlines Executive (nor any executive for that matter). But it might be a way for American to get back at Delta for taking a 20% stake at LATAM.

Whether it is back to basics, in getting back to profit, or as a way to poach Delta’s customers or JetBlue’s future customers these two heavyweights (American and Delta) are throwing down the gauntlet.

In any form, American is also going to Barcelona, Spain (BCN), Rome (FCO), and Dublin (DUB). The route to Rome is in direct competition with Delta.

Keeping a check and balance at a competitor

Whether it is American, Delta or JetBlue, the thought of one losing competition because the other goes transatlantic is certainly something to lose sleep from.

With alliances like Oneworld and SkyTeam helping American & Delta keep their share at Logan International Airport, the one worried about losing sleep is JetBlue.

jetblue's american and delta competition in boston
JetBlue staying perfectly on the centerline. Photo: JetBlue.

JetBlue going transatlantic with no backup is a scary thought

American Airlines and Delta have partnerships in London and beyond. However, for JetBlue to go to London requires strategic logistics of the first caliber.

It isn’t the same having the back of a partner compared to going through it alone.

Authors Opinion

JetBlue going solo

JetBlue has the discipline to get through this, but the transatlantic market isn’t one that should be ventured into alone.

Although JetBlue has understood the discipline of expanding and keeping margins. The market on which JetBlue plans to expand requires more discipline than before.

Delta got a partner in Virgin Atlantic and American got one in International Airlines Group partner British Airways. JetBlue is going to London and beyond alone.

It is the most competitive route on the face of the planet. While Virgin Atlantic went alone for a while (so did American) in the end it required a partner.

Most likely JetBlue will require a partner if it plans to battle these two airlines across the Atlantic.

JetBlue competitors

American and Delta, for the sake of undercutting each other, would drop prices so that JetBlue sees this endeavor unprofitable.

Southwest never saw the necessity to fly across the Atlantic. Transatlantic flying creates the need for a second type of aircraft that is incompatible with the fleet-common 737s the airline has now.

JetBlue’s solution to transatlantic flights out of BOS

I believe that JetBlue can do it in the short term. However, it should find a partner to fight American and Delta on routes across the Atlantic if it wants to stay in the fight.

Otherwise, it will become a short term venture that JetBlue will regret.

Comments or questions

What do you think about the challenge that JetBlue is faced with in Boston versus Delta and American? You can contact me here.

Featured Image: JetBlue.

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