LA Daily News

Southwest now tied with JetBlue for most slots at Long Beach Airport; Delta, Hawaiian expand

Southwest appears to have plans to replace JetBlue as the dominant airline at the Long Beach Airport.

JetBlue has surrendered even more of its flight slots at the Long Beach Airport — and Southwest Airlines, Delta Air Lines and Hawaiian Airlines have all benefited from that decision.

JetBlue, which has historically held more flight slots at the airport than any other airline, gave up seven flight slots in January. Southwest and Delta have each received three of those flight slots, and Hawaiian Airlines was awarded one of them, according to a memo that Long Beach Airport director Cynthia Guidry sent last week to City Manager Tom Modica.

None of the airlines involved immediately responded to requests for comment on how the news would impact their routes and schedules at the Long Beach Airport.

According to Guidry’s memo, Southwest appears to have plans to replace JetBlue as the dominant airline at the Long Beach Airport. Southwest had requested all seven slots, but the airport’s procedure for allocating slots requires it to grant one slot to each airline on the waiting list at a time until the allocated slots run out or until each airline’s request is granted.

Delta asked for three slots, and Hawaiian Airlines requested one.

Last April, JetBlue gave up 10 of its 34 flight slots to other airlines after Long Beach signaled it may penalize the airline for low usage of its slots.

But that doesn’t appear to be a factor in the airport’s decision-making now; because shutdowns intended to stem the further spread of the coronavirus have hit airlines hard, leading them to cut back on flights, Long Beach “is likely to consider” granting a waiver for airlines that do not meet the city’s flight slot utilization requirement through October 24, Guidry wrote.

JetBlue’s latest withdrawal means it only has 17 Long Beach slots left; Southwest’s newly awarded slots, meanwhile, now have it tied with JetBlue at 17 slots.

The following airlines round out the total 53 flight slots at the Long Beach Airport:

  • Delta Air Lines, with 12 slots
  • American Airlines, with three slots
  • Hawaiian Airlines, with two slots
  • FedEx, with one slot and
  • UPS, with one slot.

When JetBlue announced the latest relinquishment of flight slots in January, the company said in a statement that it was because the routes were “not meeting expectations.”

Guidry, for her part, appeared unfazed by the airline’s decision.

“Demand at the Long Beach Airport is growing and remains high,” Guidry said at the time, “for the convenience and first-class travel experience.”

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