In an announcement today from its New York offices, JetBlue said that it would be operating four additional flights out of Long Beach Airport and reconfiguring some flight times to the Bay Area to make for easier day trips for businesses.
The newest addition to JetBlue’s itinerary is its nonstop service to Reno-Tahoe International Airport, which goes on sale today with one way prices starting at $59, a nod to the 1859 Comstock silver rush near the “Biggest Little City in the World." Reno becomes the 12th destination to which an airline will fly nonstop from Long Beach.
JetBlue also announced the addition of one flight each between Long Beach and Oakland, San Francisco and Las Vegas as well as reconfiguring flight times to Sacramento that will allow for later departure times and earlier return times for travelers making day trips to the capital from Long Beach. In total, the airline will now provide four round-trip flights to Oakland and San Francisco and up to five round-trip flights to Las Vegas.
“Since JetBlue first came to town in 2001, when LGB had little commercial service, Long Beach has been the cornerstone of JetBlue’s success and growing route map in the western U.S.,” JetBlue’s Vice President of Network Planning, Dave Clark, said in the statement. “With its convenient and unique open-air terminal and easy access to many Southern California communities and attractions, Long Beach is a top choice for JetBlue travelers. We’re thrilled to offer our customers here even more convenience and options with new service and new flights.”
All new routes, including the one to Reno, will begin service after August 15, while the changes to the Sacramento service will take hold in early September.
The additional flights added by JetBlue are not part of the city’s flight slot allocation process that concluded last month, with JetBlue receiving three additional slots, Southwest Airlines receiving four and Delta getting the remaining two. The announcement that came February 10 started a 180-day window in which the airliners must begin operations, and a 90-day window to make flights available for sale.
Those slots were awarded after the airport's annual noise budget analysis determined that it was legally obligated to offer the new slots for a one-year period, with an evaluation at the end of the term. The noise surplus that led to the space for additional flight slots to be offered was attributed to the proliferation of new jet engines that fly quieter than older technology.
Former LGB airport director Bryant Francis viewed the use of existing flight slots as a boon to local business and leisure travelers alike, emphasizing its potential to offset declining revenues from last year, which was a result of decreased flight activity at the airport.
"We are delighted that JetBlue will be increasing the utilization of its slots," stated Francis. "Commercial airports have a vast economic impact in the communities they serve and the new service that JetBlue has announced is sure to help support local employment, payroll, and output in the region. With an emphasis on convenience—check-in, local dining and outdoor boarding—these new travelers will find Long Beach a happy surprise."
JetBlue’s decision to add these flights comes after the aforementioned year in which it cut service to Long Beach, leading to year-end revenue declines. The airline holds 32 out of the 41 slots at Long Beach, and hadn’t been flying to capacity, which, combined with the departure of Alaska Airlines’ Horizon service, contributed to the revenue decrease.
In April, a corporate representative from JetBlue described the cuts in service to and from Long Beach as a “redistribution” of resources to other cities that were dictated by market pressures. One of those flights that provided service from Long Beach to Las Vegas was restored with today’s announcement.
The additional flight offerings will bring it closer to 100 percent utilization of its slots, but as City Attorney Mike Mais pointed out, during a December city council meeting, no air carrier has done that in the history of the airport, and even if it did, it would not jeopardize the noise buckets or the additional slots allocated last month.