If you’re planning on flying to Disney World this summer, you’re going to want to be PREPARED. Prepared for what you ask? Well, a few things.
For one, there’s the cost. We’ve already looked at what the estimated cost to fly to Disney World in May looks like, but (as you likely know) costs can be ever-changing. The rising cost of jet fuel is just one factor that might make those flights to the Most Magical Place on Earth quite a bit more expensive than you might be used to. But what if availability and capacity of flights also gets limited? If you’re flying JetBlue this summer, you might experience just that and it could CHANGE your trip plans.
According to CNBC, JetBlue Airways has shared that it plans to cut some of its summer schedule in an attempt to avoid too many flight disruptions. All of this is happening as JetBlue works to hire more staff ahead of what some executives expect will be a “monster peak travel season.”
In an email sent to staff recently, JetBlue’s Chief Operating Officer and President, Joanna Geraghty, said “We’ve already reduced May capacity 8-10% and you can expect to see a similar size capacity pull for the remainder of the summer.”
CNBC reports that JetBlue canceled more than 300 flights during this past weekend in April, just about a week after bad weather in Florida caused hundreds of flight cancellations for JetBlue and other airlines.
Yahoo Finance shares that (according to data from FlightAware) JetBlue canceled 13% of its schedule (148 flights) on Sunday and delayed 39% of its flights. It also canceled 18% of its flights Saturday and delayed 48%.
According to CNBC, airlines are “scrambling” to hire more staff ahead of expected surges in travel during the spring and summer of this year. Staffing shortages actually were part of the reason for many flight cancellations last year. Airlines are trying to avoid having the same thing happen again this year.
JetBlue’s President wrote “Despite these challenges and, based on your feedback that the schedule is wound too tight, we know the best plan is to reduce capacity now…I think everyone recognizes that the industry still remains very much in recovery mode, so we believe this proactive step is the right decision.” (CNBC)
Yahoo Finance shares that JetBlue shared “given we anticipate continued industry challenges and heavy demand into the summer, we are planning more conservatively and trying to be proactive where we can with cancellations due to disruptive weather and air traffic control events.”
According to Geraghty, JetBlue has hired 2,500 staff so far this year, but remains short-staffed. (CNBC) Yahoo Finance shares that JetBlue has said “we remain staffing constrained, and these disruptions exacerbate an already challenging staffing situation.”
Geraghty indicated that JetBlue will be sharing other measures with staff in the coming weeks to help avoid further disruptions. Geraghty also said that any and all ideas are welcome in the meantime. (CNBC) The airline is looking to add “hundreds of crew members each week” to prepare for summer travel. (Yahoo Finance)
JetBlue isn’t alone in its plan to cut back on flights or in its staffing shortage issues. According to CNBC, just last week Alaska Airlines said it would be trimming its schedule to handle a pilot shortage. Alaska Airlines said “The primary cause of cancellations is the shortage of pilots available to fly versus what was planned when we built our April schedule in January.”
We should also be hearing more updates from airlines soon. This week, Delta Air Lines reports its first quarter results, and other carriers will report later this month. So, we could be hearing more about staffing shortages and capacity plans in the next several weeks. (CNBC)
Staffing shortages don’t seem to be stopping JetBlue’s potential plans to take over another airline though. Last week, JetBlue disclosed its $3.6 billion bid for Spirit Airlines. This raises questions about the Spirit and Frontier Airlines merger we had shared the news about earlier this year. Based on the most recent updates, Spirit is evaluating JetBlue’s offer.
So if you’re planning to fly JetBlue this summer, just be prepared to potentially see less flights available than what you might have expected. We’ll keep an eye out for more updates and details on this situation.
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