Ironically, I was in what will be jetBlue's newest destination, St. Maarten, when the news was announced.
While incredibly disheartening, jetBlue's arrival into Columbus couldn't have come at a worse time. I think the problem was 5-fold:
Chronic delays and cancelations at JFK:
The effects of JFK
's chronic congestion hit CMH
from the start. The Valentine's Day shut down occurred at a critical time when the airline was trying to build up a customer base in Columbus and the resulting PR
nightmare was severely detrimental to their name in the local market.
Construction at jetBlue's JFK hub:
People flying jetBlue from Columbus have had to deal with transferring through jetBlue's temporary facilities at Terminal 6 for the past year, which again also negatively impacted jetBlue's image locally and ability to garner strong local support.
With over a dozen flights to LGA
alone, Columbus already had, and will still have, decent service to the New York area. What initially attracted jetBlue was the yields historically present between CMH
and NYC. Of course, as the competition matched jetBlue's fares, the yields never panned out for B6
, and despite good loads, their resources could be far better applied elsewhere.
Outsourcing to DGS:
JetBlue's below-wing duties were performed by Delta Global Services in CMH
. I witnessed many times where bags were severely delayed in getting to the carousel, which should not happen in an airport the size of Port Columbus. I think serving jetBlue took a back seat in favor of the larger operations supported by DGS, mainly Skybus and Delta.
While not a direct competitor per se, Skybus' presence was likely the nail in the coffin for B6
. Columbus likely could have benefited from jetBlue's decision to allocate resources to overflying their delay-prone JFK
operations by servicing other large jetBlue stations such as Ft. Lauderdale, Boston (multiple times a day), and Orlando nonstop. However, with Skybus providing a glut of insanely low seats to Boston (through Portsmouth), Ft. Lauderdale, and Oakland, jetBlue had no where to go.
I do wish there was a way to keep jetBlue in Columbus. I have enjoyed seeing those cleverly named E90s in Columbus over the past year. Condolences and the best of luck to all the employees affected in CMH
as well as BNA