Keep in mind that for B6, like all other major airlines, LAX presence is about their national network. If B6 didn't care about expanding beyond its comfort zone, then it should just concentrate on building up NY, Boston and south florida the next few years. LAX was far and away the most profitable station in their network pre-COVID due to most of the flights being mint. LAX is likely to remain quite profitable until they start adding frequency on those ultra competitive west coast markets. But they are completely missing out on many of the high end corporate accounts and ff until they have more of a LAX network. One would think if other airlines are willing to do it, then slugging out on those loss leading short haul west coast market is worth the long term system wide benefit, especially on marquee routes like JFK/SoFla/BOS-LAX market.
Also, JetBlue can't make their plans based on when MSC south being built. LAX is notoriously hard to get additional gates. Airlines spend billions up front in order to get these leases with LAWA for terminals. If JetBlue has the money, it should prioritize completing its JFK terminal plan and taking over as much of EWR T-1 as possible. The fact that they got LAX to promise enough additional gates to allow them to grow to 70 to 75 flights is a huge bonus. I guess we will find out where that is. MSC might be the temporary solution if AA kicks them. I expect JetBlue to fight against moving out of T-5 until AA actually need that many gates and a permanent solution becoming available. There has been talks of T-0 in the past. No idea if that's a realistic option, but the important part is that LAWA has agreed to provide them the additional gate space. I don't expect them to get additional gates until they get to 70 flights a day and have the money to fund a major capex project.
If JetBlue wants a west coast hub where gates aren't this hard to come by, it needs to look north at SFO. Bay area is the 3rd largest domestic market in PDEW (which doesn't include HI/PR/AK). SFO is 2/3 of the Bay Area market. Given its location and the medium term drop in TPAC demand, SFO will like be an O&D focused airport for a while, which makes things slightly easier for JetBlue to enter. On top of that, SFO also has minimal ULCC competition. Unlike other top 4 markets, it only has 1 of the big 3 hubbing there and WN is quite small in SFO.
AS is the other major player in SFO, but it seems to have shifted focus away from SFO to LAX and other Cali airports. UA seems more focused on rebuilding middle of country hubs first against WN pressure. Basically, I would expect service level at SFO to be down for several years. So far, B6 has added about 6 routes to SFO (which probably won't all stick around). T-1 will have 25 gates by 2021 and the only competition are a few flights from SY/F9/HA along with stagnant presence of AA and WN. No other airlines are likely to move into T-1 until well after 2023. From my outside POV, there seems to be a lot of gates up for grabs. And the best part is, B6 will probably have some time to decided on making a move.
I believe JetBlue is looking for an expanded version of old VX strategy on the west coast of transcon, tech + leisure from LAX and SFO. That strategy with JetBlue product can clearly attract customers. The assumption has also been that JetBlue plans to be larger at LAX than SFO, but we will see if that actually ends up being the case. Do you want to poke at 1 legacy carrier with dominant but not fortress market share or do you want to get involved in a fragmented market that's costly for everyone?
I made two maps: one with B6 at 75ish daily flights and another in the (currently unlikely and overly optimistic) hypothetical scenario where jetBlue can put up the money to get its own terminal at LAX and get to around 110 flights.
This is the 75-flight layout: http://www.gcmap.com/mapui?P=LAX-JFK%2C ... S=bm&DU=mi
This is the hypothetical 110-flight "jetBlue terminal" layout:http://www.gcmap.com/mapui?P=LAX-JFK%2C ... S=bm&DU=mi
I'd say LAX traffic is comprised of a few main segments: (1) leisure, (2) business, (3) Mexico/Central America VFR, (4) domestic VFR, and (5) TPAC travel. B6 won't have the aircraft for TPAC travel so we'll cross that out. With 75 flights, I figure that B6 will sacrifice Mexico/Central America VFR in favor of leisure so that could be: 4x LAS, 2x CUN, 1x HNL, 1x OGG, 1x PVR, 1x SJD, 1x SJO, 1x RNO, 1x MCO and 2x/w LIR plus some other seasonal flying to places like ANC/BZN/MTJ that B6 can try. Moving on to business: I'd split this between routes to tech hubs, major corporate hubs, and government employment clusters. 75 flight schedule would mean flying to JFK/BOS would be about similar levels as pre-pandemic and 5x EWR (there's also a lot of VFR traffic on these, to be sure), plus 6x SFO, 2x AUS, 2x ORD, 2x SEA, 2x SMF, 1x PHL and 1x SJC. Domestic VFR would be the broadest category, since it includes some short-haul but also plenty of long-and-thin routes: 8x FLL/MIA/PBI, 3x PHX, 2x SLC, 1x BDL, 1x PDX, 1x RDU, 1x JAX, 4x/w BUF, 3x/w CHS, and 3x/w RIC. It wouldn't be bad but I think B6 would be leaving some routes on the table that it could do well on.
The overly optimistic 110 flight scenario would allow for more leisure: 6x LAS, 2x CUN, 2x HNL, 2x RNO, 1x MCO, 1x OGG, 1x SJD, 1x SJO, and 2x/w LIR with seasonal flights to ANC/BZN/JAC/MTJ. And that could let B6 try 2x GDL, 2x MEX, 1x GUA, and 1x SAL to capture some pax in key Mexico/Central America VFR markets. Also more presence on business/tech: 8x SFO, 4x ORD, 4x SEA, 3x AUS, 3x IAD, 3x SMF, 2x PHL and 2x SJC. Not to mention each of JFK and EWR would get an extra flight, as would BOS. Domestic VFR would also improve with more long-and-thin that jetBlue could capitalize on: 10x FLL/MIA/PBI, 4x PHX, 3x DEN, 3x PDX, 3x SLC, 2x TUS, 1x ABQ, 1x CLE, 1x JAX, 1x PIT, 4x/w BUF, 4x/w CHS, 4x/w PVD, and 4x/w RIC. Again, and I will reiterate, that this would be an absolute best case scenario for B6 well into the future; maybe things go in the opposite direction and B6 regrets even having a West Coast focus city in the first place. But this would be a much stronger network/schedule with which B6 could aggressively target new frequent flyers in the LA area and some business/tech travelers with lots of money who might prefer Mint over what AA/DL/UA might have to offer.
Truth be told, the LAX buildup is still in its very early stages. It's impossible to tell what LAX will look like for B6 10 years from now. It's still very possible that it ends up being a bust and only Mint and some of the short haul + CUN survive, or that in the future, B6 strikes another deal with LAWA to expand further. The Olympics are coming and LAX in its current form is not equipped to handle all that traffic - there are also several proposals that have been talked about for building new 12+ gate terminals/concourses that B6 could pounce on, as could other airlines. But that'll be a more relevant question in 2-3 years when we can better gauge whether more expansion will be worthwhile. In the meantime, I would agree that EWR should be where B6 puts forward its energy and resources, while deciding whether a focus city or large station at SFO is worthwhile since the gates could open (literally) for a significant expansion there. If B6 chooses to go for a focus city, then I'd predict that LAX would take a back seat and SFO plans would be bigger than the 40-45 flights a day at SFO that has often been discussed.