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JetBlue to add Guayaquil and exit three cities

JetBlue Airways will add Guayaquil in Ecuador to its network and exit three cities, as it works on re-allocating capacity to improve margins.

The New York-based airline will leave Washington Dulles, Daytona Beach and St Croix effective 8 January 2019, along with cuts on other underperforming routes.

Under pressure from Wall Street to increase returns in the recent year, JetBlue has focused on trimming its network and had previously announced cuts to intra-west flying and capacity out of its Long Beach focus city.

JetBlue will begin Guayaquil service in the first quarter of 2019, with daily flights from Fort Lauderdale on Airbus A320 aircraft, subject to government approval. The Ecuadorian city will be the airline's sixth destination in South America

"New flights to Guayaquil introduce yet another unique and exciting destination to our customers, while also extending JetBlue’s reach into Latin America,” says JetBlue president Joanna Geraghty. "Broadening our international presence in Ecuador also helps us grow our route map in Fort Lauderdale where JetBlue is the leading airline."

JetBlue will compete against Ecuador's TAME and Spirit Airlines on service between Fort Lauderdale and Guayaquil, FlightGlobal schedules data show. American Airlines flies to Guayaquil from Miami.

On its domestic US network, JetBlue will add four new daily routes. At Fort Lauderdale, it will begin nonstop service to both Phoenix Sky Harbor and St Maarten. It will connect Boston with Rochester (New York), and Providence with Palm Beach.

JetBlue will compete against Southwest Airlines on Fort Lauderdale-St Maarten. American operates to both St Maarten and Phoenix from Miami, while Spirit flies between Fort Lauderdale and St Maarten.

JetBlue's new flights will strengthen the airline's leadership position in the northeast, Florida and the Caribbean, says the carrier, which also plans to boost frequencies on routes from destinations including focus cities Boston, Fort Lauderdale and New York John F Kennedy.

To support the new service, JetBlue will end service on a handful of routes effective 8 January. It will exit Washington Dulles completely, by ending daily service to New York JFK and Boston. At Daytona Beach, it will eliminate daily service to New York JFK. JetBlue will also withdraw from St Croix by ending daily service to San Juan.

The Washington DC-New York market is well served by American, Delta Air Lines, Spirit and United Airlines. JetBlue itself operates to Boston from both Washington National and Baltimore/Washington. JetBlue's exit from Daytona-New York will leave the market unserved, while Cape Air and Seaborne Airlines will be the only airlines operating between San Juan and St Croix.

Elsewhere in its network, JetBlue will end service to Fort Lauderdale from Baltimore/Washington, Detroit, Long Beach and Pittsburgh. It will also end flights between Orlando and Baltimore, and between San Juan and Santiago (Dominican Republic).

The airline will also switch from year-round to seasonal service in the summer at Portland (Maine).

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