Florida impacts of JetBlue/American alliance after six months

Let’s look at the impacts of the Northeast alliance between JetBlue Airways and American Airlines six months into implementation of what is essentially a single-entity airline now flying from New York and Boston to Florida. The Department of Justice (DOJ) has reportedly stepped up its probe of the alliance.

Competitors have complained that the alliance represents an anti-competitive environment – most vocal have been Delta (DL) and Spirit (NK), both competitors of American (AA) and JetBlue (B6) on many of the routes covered under alliance especially for traffic to Florida.

Let’s look at the alliance’s benefits so far for Florida beginning with routes both AA and B6 fly.

Routes JetBlue and American both fly and have coordinated schedules

Boston-Fort Lauderdale (BOS-FLL)

Competition: Delta, Spirit, Southwest

Notes: Fort Lauderdale was the destination out of Boston that generated the most origin & destination traffic over the period from March 2020 to February 2021. United appears to have pulled off this route – they flew it for the winter season 20-21 until April. This is heavily trafficked route as noted and while AA & B6 might be colluding now to gain a greater market share, it’s doubtful any serious competitor will be pushed off the route.

Boston-Miami (BOS-MIA)

Competition: Delta, Frontier, Spirit (begins November 17)

Notes: Spirit beginning service despite combined AA/B6 presence. But BOS-MIA had only 2/3 the traffic in the most recent 12-month period studied that BOS-FLL had. So whether other airlines can survive on this route with AA & B6 effectively colluding might be less certain than on Boston-Fort Lauderdale.

Newark-Miami (EWR-MIA)

Competition: Frontier, Spirit (begins November 17), United

Notes: Like all routes from Newark, United is super-strong. However unlike flights to Fort Lauderdale and Orlando which have been flooded with United capacity increases, UA hasn’t really focused on protecting whatever market share it has in Miami. Spirit will start service in November.

New York JFK – Fort Lauderdale

Competition: Delta

Notes: DL remains a strong competitor on New York-Fort Lauderdale/Miami routes. JFK’s high costs and difficulty in obtaining slots has prevented ULCC’s Frontier and Spirit from jumping onto routes from the airport.

New York JFK – Miami

Competition: Delta

Notes: DL remains a strong competitor on New York-Fort Lauderdale/Miami routes. JFK’s high costs and difficulty in obtaining slots has prevented ULCC’s Frontier and Spirit from jumping onto routes from the airport.

New York LGA – Orlando

Competition: Delta, Frontier, Southwest, Spirit

This is an ultra-competitive route and B6/AA schedule coordination unlikely to make a huge difference to competitors.

New Florida routes announced since the alliance began

These routes are more worrying as the only competition that AA or B6 faces on most routes to second tier cities from New York airport (excluding Newark) is on Delta. One of the key talking points which can be spun either in positive or negative manner is that JetBlue and American are two weaker competitors ganging up on a stronger one in Delta. You can see it as pro-competitive because the alliance likely keeps both AA and B6 or anti-competitive because DL, the stronger business is now being punished for its success as regulators to this point have allowed two previously-failing competitors to effectively join forces.

Announced and soon to start:

New York LGA- Jacksonville (begins October 31on JetBlue)

New York LGA- Sarasota (begins October 31 on JetBlue)

Already being flown:

Boston – Key West (American)

New York LGA- Daytona Beach (American)

New York LGA- Pensacola (American)

An argument that can be made in favor of the alliance is that without being able to coordinate schedules, JetBlue and American are unlikely to begin servicing any of the above routes and Delta would be left alone in a monopoly position without that competition.

While it is too early to tell whether the alliance stimulates or hurts competition to Florida from the Northeast, one thing is certain – it’s made Delta’s fifty-year old “bread and butter” routes between Florida and New York/Boston more competitive.

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