In response to increased competition from other low-cost airlines running flights out of San Francisco International Airport, JetBlue Airways announced Wednesday that it plans to expand service in California.
The New York-based airline most recently launched five nonstop SFO flights to New York and Boston. At a shareholders meeting on Tuesday, CEO David Neeleman said the airline may add flights from Los Angeles, San Diego, Burbank and Ontario.
The comments come on the heels of statements made last week in which Neeleman said pending terminal remodels at SFO, the airline will expand service beyond the five recently launched eastbound flights.
JetBlue spokeswoman Alison Eshelman said that while expansion, particularly at SFO, is planned, the company does not have details yet on where and when this will happen.
Eshelman noted that the flights running from SFO — new service that started last week — are “doing as expected,” declining to specify passenger loads.
“It usually takes about a year to evaluate a new market; then we’ll see where we are and where the demand is,” Eshelman said.
A handful of airlines are clamoring to fly out of SFO’s gates this year. Burlingame-based Virgin America and Southwest Airlines, both low-cost carriers, plan on starting service this year. Virgin America is still awaiting federal approval to fly, but officials are planning a summer kickoff. Southwest, which announced its routes from SFO on Friday, plans to start service in early fall.
This unusual phenomenon will almost certainly result in cheaper fares, according to Washington, D.C.-based aviation consultant Pat Murphy. It’s hard to say how low the fares will go, but airlines usually match one another when one company raises or lowers airfare, he said.
While other low-cost carriers are clamoring to get into SFO, Frontier Airlines is finding it tough to compete for one of SFO’s most popular domestic routes.
Frontier, a Denver-based low-cost carrier of the same ilk as JetBlue and Southwest, plans on suspending service between SFO and Los Angeles International Airport on July 10.
Despite the route’s overall popularity, Frontier spokesman Joe Hodas said the airline wasn’t able to “get traction” with that particular city pairing.
“It’s a very competitive route,” Hodas said. “It was a market we looked at, and thought there would be room for another carrier to come in with a better level of service. But it just wasn’t doing as well as we hoped.”