Delta Air Lines, already embroiled in a tough struggle for market dominance with Alaska Airlines at Seattle, is now facing a new battle in the Northeast.
Just a few weeks after Delta announced plans for a significant increase of service out of Boston next year, JetBlue has unveiled its own strategy to keep ahead of competitors in that city with route expansions of its own. And part of JetBlue’s plan includes a strike into Delta’s base, by launching several flights a day between Boston and Atlanta. JetBlue served Atlanta back in 2003 with nonstops to New York-JFK and Long Beach, but only for a few short months.
JetBlue said that on March 30 it will start flying five times a day between Boston and Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson, a route dominated by Delta and Southwest, with a few Spirit Airlines flights as well. What’s more, “In addition to Boston-Atlanta flights, JetBlue also intends to add service between Atlanta and its focus cities of Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood, New York JFK, and Orlando,” the company said.
In a challenge to Delta’s (and American’s) Shuttle service in the northeast, JetBlue had earlier announced plans to start flying between Boston and New York LaGuardia on October 31 of this year, with six flights a day on weekdays. JetBlue already serves the Boston-New York JFK and Boston-Newark markets.
Delta’s announcement last month noted that it will resume Boston-San Francisco service, with two daily 757-200 flights, starting June 8; and will boost its Boston-Seattle schedule from one flight a day to two. JetBlue responded this week with a plan to add a fourth daily Mint-equipped roundtrip to its SFO-Boston schedule starting next July. The airline noted that its existing three daily BOS-SFO flights will all have Mint service by September 21 of this year, as will all its Boston-Los Angeles flights by November 18.
The addition of two SFO-BOS flights a day by Delta and a fourth by JetBlue could mean lower fares for travelers in a market where United and Virgin America are competing as well.
Delta said it will also begin Boston-Nashville service, add a second daily Boston-Milwaukee flight, and begin weekly service from BOS to Montego Bay, Jamaica; Punta Cana, Dominican Republic; and St. Thomas, USVI. In response, JetBlue said its existing seasonal service from Boston to St. Thomas and Montego Bay will be extended to year-round operations.
Delta said that by next June, its increased schedule will give it 90 flights a day out of Boston to 26 destinations. That will leave it well behind JetBlue, which currently has 140 weekday departures from Boston, and plans to increase that to 200 flights a day to 63 destinations.
If you could choose between JetBlue and Delta, which way would you go? Please leave your comments below.