I've heard from a source that Kirby expects B6 will be forced to give up all the additional flying it has picked up at EWR during COVID and that they (UA) will be forced out of JFK. I'd put that down as very unlikely, since all the international airlines and some domestic ones (AA/DL/AS) are flying much less than pre-COVID. And even pre-COVID, you could add flights outside of the peak hours.
Even so, I'm sure UA is working on ways to force B6/NK to give up some of the additional flying they've picked up. That's why I think they've been telling everyone that they will operate 430 flights in November when slot waiver goes away. That's why they've been telling their crew members all along to not worry about B6 at EWR.
B6 needs to keep operating as many flights as PA will allow if it wants to keep up its presence at EWR.
There is nothing to give up at EWR. No slots.
B6 saw lots of empty runway and gates…and pounced.
With 10 gates now in hand, they are free to operate the flights that the gates can handle.
UA can add flights from their gates.
Is the EWR flying at least doing well for B6? I know UA is operating at a 93% LF for the hub this week.
If I had to guess, some of the routes probably weren't performing that well in the beginning (like EWR-SFO and EWR-CHS), but they were one of the few places where B6 could deploy those aircraft. I'd imagine they are probably performing a lot better now. They've always done pretty well out of EWR. It'd be good if they can get more than 10 gates. Then the issue will be whether or not they have enough aircraft and frontline crew members. Challenges not unique to B6, but hopefully they can work it out.
More in the weeds on the pilot side, during covid, all the pilots who could hold it bid to the A320 in a displacement bid caused by the LGB-LAX switch. It’s always been that newhires went to both 190 and 320, because there were vacancies in both. It used to be a 2 year seat lock. It’s now 1. The vacancies were often cyclical, and ensured an even future flow of vacancies in each plane. And until the contract a few years ago, pay was so close that it didn’t matter which plane you were on the first couple/few years. Now after year 1, the bus pays a lot more, driving pilots to want to switch earlier. Also the 190 flying gets boring. During covid that 1 year lock expired (and there was a displacement, which also affected things) with no additional influx or vacancies to restart seatlocks, and hiring stopped, so now on all the recent bids there are only 190 vacancies, so newhires can essentially only go to the 190. There also used to be 3 190 sims. There are only 2 now. It used to work when there were newhire vacancies on both planes. Now they are trying to hire 600 a year, but the 2x 190 sims aren’t adequate to support that many newhire 190 training events (plus upgrades and recurrent). There are attempts to get sim time elsewhere (DFW CAE I’ve heard), and whether or not that happens will dictate pilot hiring numbers for the next 12 (at least) months. Until enough growth happens where 320/220 vacancies go to newhires again, this problem will persist. B6 mgmt really screwed themselves by going cheap on the 190 rates. Especially since it was supposed to be a dying fleet anyway. They will pay more in training events and training churn than they would had they left 190 rates at 90% of bus rates.
any updates on the pilot hirings for this year? Aside from pilots and FAs, I'd imagine the grounds crew and gate agents are running low at this point. Not unique to B6, but certainly a problem they need to work through.
Seems like hiring constraint right now is E90 sims. Who could've guessed that 2 years ago when they were taking huge charges to remove it out of service by 2025. Now, it looks like E90 will be around for a while since they decided to keep their capex low for a while.
The next problem, and perhaps a larger one, is the capex required to get more planes. So much debt was taken on in the last 17 months, it makes it really difficult for them to just be able to take on a lot more buying up more aircraft. Apparently additional A220-300 delivery slots from mobile are non-existent, and they can’t take any additional 321s from airbus anytime soon either. So, perhaps they can find a decent deal on some used planes, but they don’t seem to be inclined to run up more debt. I’m not sure I agree with that decision given what every other airline (even those with more debt) seems to be doing ordering a bunch of planes. They seem more focused on repairing the balance sheet than adding planes/capacity.
If you look around the parking areas, namely JFK/BOS, and the 10ish 320s in MZJ, you can see a lot of idle planes. Mx also is an issue—I think the extended desert sit caused some issues for the planes. Sounds like the 190s especially are having a ton of issues. They are still only flying something like 85-90% of their 2019 capacity as far as flight hours go, despite having more airframes and at this point more pilots. So from an airframe standpoint, I think they could boost their capacity some of they were so inclined and had the staffing. It’s the summer 2022-2023 capacity I’m not so sure about. My guess is they will want it to be larger than they will be able to support with as few planes as they have coming.
This is the part that gets to me. It seems like a lot of JetBlue's current and upcoming challenges can be solved with more money and hiring the right people. But it requires decisive action by leadership to prioritize the challenges and get board backing to do them. That may result in B6 spending more on capex and hiring than they were planning to.
Their IT has been a mess all summer. Need a lot of investment to make that work. Especially for NEA.
If they do end up with the ability to expand more at EWR and more slots at LGA/JFK in the next 2 years, they need operational aircraft. I guess Airbus has a much stronger hand than Boeing in forcing airlines to take deliveries. Still surprised that there is no near term A321 slots. The obvious answer is taking used aircraft. Global demand is still way down. I'm sure lessors are willing to give favorable terms.
If the LAX situation does not improve (as in having to operate out of TBIT west), then they really need to put plans into place for SFO.
Whatever they do, they don't want to end up back in their Jan 2020 situation.