Jetblue’s Jenny Dervin answers your questions (part 2)

Jetblue's Jenny Dervin answers your questions! File photo.

Jetblue’s Jenny Dervin answers your questions! File photo.

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.

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Inside the numbers: Why LAX could be on track for record year in 2014

LAX traffic is on the upswing, airport officials told the city's airport commisison earlier this month. Staff photo by Brad Graverson.

LAX traffic is on the upswing, airport officials told the city’s airport commission earlier this month. Staff photo of new international terminal by Brad Graverson.

A new Los Angeles Board of Airport Commissioners took over a couple of months ago, and the group — appointed by new L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti — wanted a full update on traffic trends at LAX.

Luckily for us, that report, delivered at the Nov. 14 meeting, is public record. There’s nothing top secret in the power point airport officials delivered, but it might help you better understand some key LAX metrics.

Let’s take a look at what airport commission members learned:

  • Board members were told LAX is unique because it has no dominant airline. Instead four carriers – -American, Southwest, Delta and United — have roughly equal market shares. This pie chart is a bit misleading because American’s tally includes flights operated by its American Eagle subsidiary. United Express and Delta Connection flights, however, are not include in the larger airline’s tally.  (Many of the Skywest flights in the chart, for example, are operated as United Express.) 

LAX Market Share

  • LAX passenger traffic peaked in 2000, but airport officials are predicting 2014 will be a big year. Also, below, you’ll see New York Kennedy got a big traffic bump from Jetblue, which began operations in 2000. 

LAX chart 4

  • As you can see below, LAX officials are bullish on international traffic. In the past six months, airlines have announced new flights to Stockholm, London Gatwick, Oslo, Jeddah, Abu Dhabi and Sao Paulo.

LAX chart

  • Some of the airport commissioners said they’re concerned San Francisco International Airport is seeking to “steal” many of LAX’s international flights. But this slide below puts the competition in perspective. LAX still has almost twice as many international passengers as San Francisco. 

LAX map

  • In terms of international flights, San Francisco gained on LAX during the middle portion of the 2000s, in part because United and other Star Alliance carriers increased schedules at SFO. But since 2010, LAX has been holding steady against SFO, according to airport officials. 

LAX chart 2

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