JetBlue Airways expects a decision from the Long Beach city council later this summer on a proposed plan to launch international flights from the city's airport.

The council, which had commissioned a study on the feasibility of adding a federal inspection services facility at the airport, will complete the study this summer and vote shortly thereafter, says JetBlue's senior vice-president of government affairs Rob Land at the sidelines of the IATA annual general meeting.

If the council is in favour of it, it will seek federal approval, he adds.

JetBlue has lobbied for the facility to allow it to launch international flights from the airport. However, some Long Beach city council members and residents are against the airport adding international service, citing concerns over noise.

The airport already restricts air service under a noise ordinance, and airlines have to obtain slots to operate. Recently, nine additional slot pairs were handed out - of which three were secured by JetBlue, which operates focus city operations from the airport.

JetBlue has been criticised by rivals for not utilising its Long Beach slots fully.

Southwest Airlines, while not naming JetBlue, told Flightglobal in May that slots at Long Beach are "woefully under-utilised". JetBlue operates 87% of the capacity out of Long Beach this month, schedules in Innovata show.

JetBlue chief executive Robin Hayes says the airline is "fully compliant" with the slot use rules, when asked by Flightglobal. Hayes and Land say that the airline is using 29 out of its 35 slot pairs at the airport this summer, which is "well above what is required".

Source: Cirium Dashboard