When I visited Jetblue headquarters in New York earlier this month, I solicited questions from readers about questions they wanted me to ask airline officials. Unfortunately, I didn’t see two of the reader questions until after my visit. But fear not. Jenny Dervin, Jetblue’s vice president for corporate communication was kind enough to answer them via email.
Certainly there’s some element of spin here, but I know my readers are smart enough to digest the answers…
John writes: “JB has had significant problems w/ weather events at JFK. The first one years ago cost founder David Neeleman his job. How is this being addressed?”
Jenny Dervin’s Response:
True! We chose to base our airline in New York, with a focus city in Boston, because that’s where the customers are. (It’s like bank robber Willie Sutton, who was asked “Why do you rob banks, Willie?” and Willie said “Because that’s where the money is!”)
But the flip side to basing our operations in the Northeast is that it’s the most congested airspace in the world. One out of every five airborne planes is operating in the Northeast – either taking off, landing or flying through. When weather strikes in the Northeast, it has a disproportionate impact on our operations compared to airlines who have hubs in fair-weather ports. Although it’s fair to say that every airline was walloped this winter, no matter where their hubs are located.
So what are we doing about it? Several things: After the first major storm of the season, we rededicated ourselves to making sure we aggressively thinned the operation in advance of any storm, so we could let our customers know well in advance of any schedule disruption. Communication well in advance, with options for rebooking are key to serving our customers. We appreciate that our customers also know that there’s very little we can do when the weather is bad.
We are also working on improving airspace management through the FAA’s NextGen efforts.
Dave writes, “Future plans for BOS? Or is it at max capacity already?”
Jenny Dervin’s Response:
We love Boston! No airline has been able to carve out a majority market share in Boston until we did – we’re the largest airline in Boston with the most nonstops. We are currently around 100 departures a day from BOS, and we plan to operate maybe a dozen more in peak seasons. There is a capacity limit, more aligned with the number of gates we have there than anything else, but we aren’t near that max capacity limit yet.
Our plan for BOS is to continue adding destinations that are highly relevant to the customers in BOS. We serve many of the top 25 markets but not all, so our growth will be highly focused going forward.
Having said all that, I have to also say that we know we are only as good as our last flight and we have to continue to earn our customers’ business. We are improving the airport experience to help that. Massport, who runs the airport, has been a great partner, improving the security checkpoint and general infrastructure. BOS is a city that works in all respects.
Want more? Here are some more of Dervin’s answers from my visit.