Something's heating up in Jersey.
Just days after Southwest announced plans to lease slots at Newark Liberty International Airport, JetBlue is out with news that it will add a Boston-Newark route in early May 2011. JetBlue already flies from Newark to destinations in Florida, with connections to the Caribbean.
In its release, JetBlue boasts that it will "introduce competition and low fares to the Boston-Newark market," and claims the current average fare between the two cities—$280 round-trip—"is higher than the average fare paid by Boston travelers on any of the six coast-to-coast routes operated by JetBlue from Logan."
There are a couple of factors to consider here. First, Boston and New York are JetBlue's primary focus cities, and Southwest has invaded both in the past year. Southwest launched service at LaGuardia last June, and followed up with Boston flights last August. Now Southwest has added Newark, bracketing the New York metropolitan area with two airports much like JetBlue has done.
This also makes me wonder if JetBlue was chasing the same slots Southwest leased from Continental. Southwest only announced its Newark service late Friday, and two business days is an awfully short period of time to decide on a semi-retaliatory move such as this. It's pure speculation on my part, but I wonder if JetBlue knew the Southwest move was coming because it was in on the deal. Perhaps Southwest won the lease because it doesn't already serve Newark.
This also makes me wonder if JetBlue is expecting Southwest will add Newark-Boston service to compete with the numerous airlines already flying between Boston and the NYC area. It makes much more sense for Southwest to fly from Newark to Chicago, Houston, and other destinations that feed into its route network, but perhaps Southwest has its eye on business travelers shuttling between the two cities. Or JetBlue is simply trying to funnel more Florida-bound travelers through Newark as a way to alleviate pressure on its service from JFK.
The press release, however, certainly makes the whole thing appear to be about Southwest. Just read that excerpt above, in which JetBlue talks about average fares and bringing in new competition. "The new service will bring JetBlue's industry leading product and the only low-fare competition into a notoriously high-fare market," it says in the release. Hmm, which airline does that sound like? I'm just surprised the words "JetBlue Effect" don't appear anywhere in the release.
Personally, I'm excited. I live in Boston, and my family lives in north Jersey, and yes, it's expensive to fly into Newark. Low-fare competition on the route might make it easier for me to swing home for a short visit (Mom, I hope you're reading this), especially if Southwest does get in on the act.
Readers, what do you think about JetBlue's new route? Is it a strike at Southwest? Does the route make sense regardless? Let me know what you think.