JetBlue Airways is cutting “unprofitable” routes across its network in an attempt to boost its financial performance in the absence of the carrier’s recently deceased deal to acquire Spirit Airlines

The New York-based low-cost carrier revealed the network cuts in a 19 March employee memo, which outlines planned exits in four cities – Bogota, Colombia, Quito, Ecuador, Lima, Peru and Kansas City, Missouri.

“These decisions are never easy,” JetBlue says. “However, these markets have recently fallen short of our expectations. These moves will allow us to redeploy our fleet to increase frequencies on well-performing routes from JetBlue’s focus cities while continuing to increase crucial ground time for our aircraft, reducing the chance of delays for our customers.”

JetBlue will cease operating most of the cancelled routes on 13 June. Affected customers will be rebooked on alternate flights or provided refunds.


Source: JetBlue Airways

JetBlue is trimming flights to South America and the Midwest USA that haven’t met the carrier’s profitability expectations 

According to the memo, obtained and reviewed by FlightGlobal, JetBlue will also not resume flights to Newburgh, New York – a route that has been suspended since 2020 – and is scaling back flight frequencies to Los Angeles. 

”We had hoped to increase our relevance in LAX by combining with Spirit to better compete with the big legacy carriers,” says Dave Jehn, JetBlue’s vice-president of network planning and airline partnerships. ”Without Spirit – and without aircraft time and gates available to grow organically – we need to refocus.” 

Also in June, the carrier plans to stop flying from Tampa to Atlanta, Austin, Nashville, New Orleans and Salt Lake City, and from Los Angeles to Cancun, Las Vegas, Liberia, Miami, Puerto Vallarta, Reno, San Francisco and Seattle. 

JetBlue says flights to Puerto Vallarta are set to become seasonal, “focusing service when seasonal demand makes more sense for our customers”. 

Culling its network will allow JetBlue to place even greater emphasis on its “bread and butter” flying on the East Coast, cross-country routes and serving the Caribbean. 

The carrier plans to step up flights between San Juan, Puerto Rico and Orlando and Tampa, “on top of recently added capacity to Boston and Fort Lauderdale”, Jehn says. It will also seek to “compete harder” in key markets of Boston and Orlando this fall. 

JetBlue has been plotting its own course since at least 4 March, when it called off plans to acquire Spirit and agreed to pay a $69 million termination penalty. That decision came after a federal judge in January blocked the carriers’ proposed combination on anti-competitive grounds.


JetBlue is calculating that cutting routes will ease pressure on its fleet, which is massively constrained by issues with Pratt & Whitney’s geared turbofan (GTF) engines. Cirium fleets data show that the carrier currently has in storage eight Airbus A321neos, which are powered by GTFs.

The number of aircraft grounded for engine work in JetBlue’s fleet is expected to increase in coming months and peak late this year. The carrier anticipates having an average of 11 jets grounded throughout 2024, and 12-15 grounded at the height of inspections.

“We’re managing a shortage of aircraft availability – particularly with some aircraft grounded due to Pratt & Whitney GTF engine inspections… and need to provide breathing room for our operation including more ground time between trips and more time for tech ops to carry out overnight work,” Jehn says. 

JetBlue said in January that it was expecting no growth for the full year of 2024 due to its out-of-service jets, and for capacity to decline, year on year.

Chief executive Joanna Geraghty added at the time that the carrier is deferring some $2.5 billion of Airbus aircraft deliveries expected in 2024-27, to 2028 and beyond.

JetBlue lost $104 million on $2.3 billion of revenue in the fourth quarter of 2023, after making $24 million and generating $2.4 billion of revenue during the prior-year period. It lost $310 million on the full year, compared with a loss of $362 million in 2022. 

”The deferral, we believe, is imperative because the number one priority is getting this business back to sustained profitability,” said chief financial officer Ursula Hurley. “We had 35 aircraft that were supposed to be delivered in 2025 and 45 in 2026, and we just didn’t feel like that was the capital investment that we should be making.” 

In January, long-time CEO Robin Hayes announced his retirement shortly before the carrier’s proposed acquisition of Spirit was blocked.