JetBlue to launch services from Washington National Airport
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Spirit Airlines feels sting of Southwest’s discounting. First signs emerge of changing network mix
Efforts by Spirit Airlines to create some pricing traction in the US domestic market during the early high travel season during 2Q2016 have been foiled, largely by Southwest Airlines. The result was continued weakening of yields for the airline, a metric that has been a mainstay for Spirit during the last couple of years. The airline’s double-digit yield decline slightly worsened from 1Q2016 to 2Q2016.
Spirit is forecasting some improvement in the US revenue environment in 3Q2016 as the airline starts to lap the onset of pricing dilution in the US market that started in mid-2015, and as its own capacity slows in comparison with 2Q2016.
The airline is also making network moves in late 2016 to reflect its new strategy of adding mid-size markets that are less competitive. Spirit is making a push from a new market – Akron-Canton – and is also expanding from Orlando. At the same time, Spirit is exiting markets featuring a mix of low and high levels of competition as it works to change the structure of its network, now that larger airlines are more wilful in matching the ULCC’s fares.
jetBlue Airways keeps long-term cost performance in sight as US pricing trends start to stabilise
After outperforming the industry throughout most of 2015 in its unit revenue performance, jetBlue Airways has posted negative results throughout 2016, driven by a weaker pricing environment in the US market. Unlike other airlines, jetBlue does not provide much forward guidance about unit revenue, and is not venturing to offer a timeframe for a return to positive unit revenue. For 4Q2016 the airline is facing pressure from the timing of the Christmas holiday, and the effects of suspended operations due to hurricane Matthew in Oct-2016.
jetBlue is noticing similar trends to those at other US airlines – generally, close-in bookings and pricing began to improve in 3Q2016. Most US airlines are planning lower year-on-year capacity growth in 2017; these include jetBlue, which expects its supply to drop a couple of points below 2016 levels. jetBlue’s 2017 capacity will still run higher than that of some of the larger and more mature US airlines, but the company always stresses that it remains in growth mode, reflected in the introduction of eleven new routes from late 2016 through 1H2016.