American’s Gotham Goals

That’s not the only thing he has to worry about: at about the same time that Neeleman was apologising to investors, American Airlines said that it liked New York, too, and would beef up its service in the Big Apple. In a move that presents as serious a threat to JetBlue as any force of nature like the weather. American will finish a $1.1-billion terminal expansion at JetBlue’s home base of JFK, starting flights to Las Vegas, adding cross-country frequencies and in general making itself a bigger presence. Neeleman says he’s not too worried since a lot of the new American flights are from LaGuardia, which JetBlue doesn’t consider its home base, and others are from Newark, where the big guy is Continental Airlines.

The Bog Apple or Gotham is big city. Continental leads, carrying 20.7 million passengers, for a 19.9% market share at the three New York airports. American, the long-time No. 2 in the New York region, had a 14.2% share, with 14.8 million passengers. JetBlue, which began flying in February 2000, carried 13.6 million passengers, for a 13% market share. Measuring just domestic service, JetBlue is second only to Continental in the market, with 13.2 million passengers to Continental’s 14.4 million. American is third, with 10.8 million domestic passengers. In total traffic, JetBlue has surpassed American at JFK, with 11.6 million passengers to American’s 7.9 million last year.

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