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JetBlue Slashes Summer Schedule by 10% to Avoid Another Operational Meltdown

JetBlue Slashes Summer Schedule by 10% to Avoid Another Operational Meltdown

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JetBlue is to slash its summer schedule by 10 percent and has reduced its capacity growth forecast to between zero and five percent as the airline struggles to keep up with a surge in demand that has resulted in a series of embarrassing and expensive operational meltdowns.

The airline blamed a combination of factors for its recent poor performance including Omicron staff absences, bad weather and air traffic control delays.  The carrier also said it was working to fill available positions and is hiring 5,000 new crewmembers in New York alone.

“JetBlue is a growth airline, and we want nothing more than to bring our unique combination of low fares and award-winning service to more customers,” commented JetBlue’s president and chief operating officer Joanna Geraghty. 

“However, by taking a more conservative approach to growth, we can bring resiliency to our operation and ensure our crewmembers – who are the best in the industry – come to work each day set up for success.”

JetBlue has suffered many of the same problems affecting every other airline in the United States and around the world but the Long Island-based carrier is coping less well than most of its peers.  On Tuesday, Geraghty admitted JetBlue had “let our crewmembers and our customers down”.

In recent weeks, JetBlue has offered flight attendants and other workers incentive bonuses to avoid calling out sick.  In the run-up to the New Year, JetBlue was proactively cancelling up to 90 flights per day due to worker shortages which were made worse by a COVID-19 surge.

JetBlue says it has been forced to trim its planned schedule despite “robust” demand that has sent airfares soaring.  But Geraghty says the airline needs to add “more buffer room” into its schedule for when things don’t go to plan.  

Geraghty said cutting back the schedule would also help JetBlue catch up on pilot training which fell behind during the Omicron surge.  More staff are being brought in to deal with customer queries that have resulted in long call hold times, while flights in the New York area are being retimed to avoid a crush in airport terminals at certain times of the day.

The situation has got so bad at Newark that additional growth will be put on hold until construction is completed on the new Terminal A.

“Many customers have been waiting for two years to travel again, and our goal this summer is to offer an incredible experience,” Geraghty said. “Unfortunately, weather and air traffic control delays will always be part of air travel, and we are doing everything we can to manage them better for our crewmembers and customers.”

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