Thursday, July 24, 2008

Blue About JetBlue, and Expressly Blue About ExpressJet

KFI radio was airing a promo about its news coverage, and the promo included an audio clip stating that JetBlue wouldn't be flying out of Ontario International Airport (a/k/a LA/Ontario International Airport - argh) on September 3.

According to Andrea Bennett, they won't be flying out on September 4 or 5, either. Or the 6th. Or the 7th. You get the idea.

Bennett quotes CEO Dave Barger:

The dramatic rise in fuel prices has forced us to make the difficult decision to discontinue operations in Ontario. While we understand the impact this decision has on our customers and our crew members, we need to make appropriate network adjustments to better match our capacity with customer demand.

But JetBlue isn't the only airline ceasing operations at Ontario. The Los Angeles Times reports:

JetBlue's move came a week after ExpressJet announced it would stop all service at Ontario on Sept. 2, eliminating 15 nonstop flights to such destinations as Austin, Texas, and Tulsa, Okla.

In all, Ontario airport is expected to lose 37% of its flights in the fall, making the airport one of the nation's hardest hit by an industrywide rush to cut flights amid soaring fuel costs.

With the service cutbacks, area travelers can expect higher fares, more stopovers and driving farther to catch flights that may no longer be available at a nearby airport.

Why September? The Prague Post explains:

Spiraling fuel prices are hitting the airline industry especially hard during peak season, forcing airlines to cut routes and raise prices when demand tapers off this fall. Budget airlines have been especially hard-hit, as the low fares they build their business model on become increasingly difficult to maintain.

But whenever you're talking about Ontario International Airport, you have to remember the big gorilla at the airport, namely Southwest Airlines. And they're holding steady, according to the Press-Enterprise. Sort of:

Southwest Airlines, the airport's largest carrier, will cut one of the 10 flights it has between Ontario and Phoenix in November, a seasonal shift, but has no intention to cut back flights at Ontario, said Southwest spokeswoman Whitney Eichinger.

The Press-Enterprise also reported the overall numbers.

LA/Ontario International

May 2008: 575,407 passengers

May 2007: 622,239 passengers

Who knows whether the apparent drop in fuel prices will help rally the airline industry next summer.

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