LONDON – JetBlue has decided to temporarily suspend 27 routes from its published summer schedule with two permanent suspensions between Austin to Cancun and Nashville to Cancun.
Amongst 27 temporary suspensions, Florida has seen maximum cancellations.
But all these routes have been suspended till fall 2022 with a return to service after due diligence on commercial viability.
This is seen as another effect of the Russo-Ukraine crisis which has led to an exponential increase in oil prices globally, once again affecting the airline industry which is making maximum efforts to loom out of the pandemic and are looking forward to the upcoming summer holiday season.
As this news has come across as surprising to many, industry thinktanks and exerts see this as a particle move by JetBlue.
Speaking on this announcement, Andrew Didora, an airline analyst at Bank of America stated, “When fuel prices are high, it makes some routes unprofitable or not worth flying. When some capacity comes out of the market, it makes for better supply-demand dynamics.”
Furthermore, Mr. Didora said that, if oil prices remain higher, “culling of seats around the margin in off-peak periods. When consumer demand is strong, airlines will not cut flights that run at peak times on popular routes.”
Slashed schedule to Mexican sunshine
JetBlue added the sunny seaside party destination of Cancun in Mexico as part of its wider network availability to its passengers in the early phases of pandemic relief.
As business travel was slumping due to ongoing restrictions.
But as the new announcement has slashed routes between Austin and Nashville to Cancun, Mr. Willis Orlando, a flight specialist reported to CBS News:
“They still have more routes than they did in 2019, and big picture, they’re moving back to where they were.”
“During the pandemic, demand was really concentrated among U.S. passengers to warm weather, short-haul destinations like Florida, New Orleans, Cancun, and Costa Rica.”
Mr. Orlando further added that “Demand to these places is waning as people feel more comfortable going to cities.”
“If I were in the pricing department of an airline deciding what routes are profitable, I would say maybe we don’t need to double down quite so hard on South Florida.”
With the latest challenges faced by the US airline industry during New Year’s eve which lasted substantially over 3 weeks have shown that the challenges were faced due the staffing issues as Omicron was surging across the nation along with harsh weather changes during that period.
But only rising fuel costs can’t be taken as the sole basis of these slashed-down operations.
Mr. Orlando stated that “Staffing issues have been an ongoing drama throughout the pandemic for airlines.”
“We’re anticipating a summer as strong or stronger than 2019 in terms of demand and no airline wants to be the one that has a mid-summer meltdown when they’re canceling tons of flights because they can’t get staff in place.”
As the airfares are on the rise due to increasing fuel and operations costs, Adobe analyst, Mr. Vivek Pandya stated that “We already saw increases in February relative to January, and so far consumers shave been able to manage the hikes because there is a lot of enthusiasm for travel.”
Mr. Pandya further added that “They are optimizing routes and making sure they’re working with prices so they can absorb some fuel costs and manage demand so they can keep the momentum going and have a strong, successful year.”
“They’re making decisions around what they can afford and weighing that against how deep consumers’ desire to travel is.”
Looking Ahead to Summer 2022…
Given the changing circumstances around geopolitical attributes due to the Russo-Ukraine war, which has already started affecting the airline industry with many challenging adaptations like route diversions, flight cancellations, or added costs towards increasing fuel prices.
However, this can certainly mean that the changing winds will not affect the airline industry substantially but will certainly need improvement in its product offering and crisis response.
Furthermore, this is also going to hamper airline recovery across the globe, but all the carriers have to respond to this crisis with solidarity and thus keep up their operational readiness for the pent-up demand they will be observing for the upcoming summer season as travel restrictions around the globe are being relaxed and borders are once again getting open to welcome tourist to thrive on the tourism dollars.