LONDON – Yesterday saw JetBlue (B6) bid farewell to operations at Long Beach Airport (LGB) after a 19-year stint. The airline will now operate services out of Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) instead.

On Twitter, the airport commented on the departure of the airline for the last time, thanking it for the years of service. “Today (Oct 6) is JetBlue’s last day at LGB. We are forever grateful for their excellent service and the investment they made in the Long Beach community. Thank you for 19 great years!”.

Many of those have criticized the Long Beach City Council over the withdrawal of the airline due to “the noisy international flights” polluting the area. This was also lobbied by residents of the area.

Photo: Kochan Kleps

Who’s Replacing JetBlue out of LGB?

The airline made its views very clear on the decisions pertaining to the withdrawal of LGB around a couple of months ago. Thereafter, a press release from the airport stated that upon the withdrawal of the airline’s operations, effective yesterday, that Southwest Airlines (WN) would step in and take over the 17 slots previously owned by B6.

Back in September, the Airport Director Cynthia Guidry commented on the news saying that the move from WN is a vote of confidence in the airport. “This is a vote of confidence in the boutique travel experience we offer at our airport.” “We are thrilled to see Southwest increase their presence at LGB and grateful for their ongoing partnership.”

These additional slots represent an expansion out of the airport by the airline, having launched operations back in 2016.

Photo: Luca Flores

From 17 to 34 Slots

This now means that the airline has 34 flight slots from the original 17 it had before the withdrawal. Also commenting on this was Andrew Watterson, WN’s Executive VP & Chief Commercial Officer who expressed pride over the news.

“Southwest has established decades of consistency as the hometown carrier of California and soon will proudly offer more for Long Beach. We’re grateful for this opportunity to bring more of our value and reach to our Customers in the LA Basin who prefer Long Beach, one of ten airports we serve across the state.”

Photo: Luca Flores

The LAX Effect

The move to LAX was announced back in July this year by the airline, with the popular transcontinental and West Coast services moving with it. Back in that same period, the airline’s Head of Revenue and Planning Scott Laurence explained that this was the best idea for the carrier.

“LAX is one of JetBlue’s most successful markets and offers the valuable opportunity to grow significantly both domestically and internationally while introducing our low fares on more routes. The transition to LAX, serving as the anchor of our focus city strategy on the West Coast, sets JetBlue up for success in Southern California. We continue to seize on opportunities to emerge from this pandemic a stronger competitive force in the industry.”

The decision would not come as a surprise to the Los Angeles World Airports company (LAWA) due to the level of support it has been giving to B6. By 2025, around 70 flights a day will depart as B6 flights, signifying the expansive strategy the airline wants to carry out, including non-stop services that LAX has never hosted before, although the airline would not disclose it.

Photo: Kochan Kleps

LGB Won’t Be Missed?

Even in the wake of the 19-year relationship with LGB, it appears that what has been offered to it by LAX won’t make the move that emotional. This is because of the number of economic benefits for the carrier that will come with such an expansion out of one of the U.S.’s predominant airports.

It will be interesting to see how the airline will perform now that LAX is the main focus for California, especially on the transcon perspective as well.

Photo: Kochan Kleps

Featured Image: JetBlue Airbus A321. Photo Credit: Luca Flores