With the winter weather looming in the Northeast, JetBlue decided to shut down for 17 hours to wait it out and give flight crews a chance to rest.
JetBlue had started canceling “nearly all operations” around 1 p.m. ET Monday at Boston’s Logan, New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport, New York’s LaGuardia Airport and Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey, said JetBlue spokeswoman Tamara Young. With hopes to start on Tuesday at 10 a.m. ET and the airline being “100% operational by 3 p.m. ET.”
“This is to ensure recovery of our operations as efficiently as possible and be fully operable by [Tuesday],” JetBlue said in a statement.
JetBlue Chief Operating Officer Robert Maruster said in an interview on CNBC, “There were a lot of unforeseen events that were really outside of our control that were impacting our ability to operate correctly,” Maruster said. “We know there are a lot of upset customers in a lot of places that are waiting to get home from the holiday. We’re trying to get as many people moving as quickly as possible as soon as this weather abates a little bit.”
Bad weather isn’t all to blame on JetBlue’s shut down. Under the new Federal Aviation Administration rules on pilot duty times, that increase rest requirements for pilots, scheduling pilots and crews which is hard enough during normal circumstances, Young told CNN. Even though JetBlue claimed the airline was prepared for the new rules, “Delays or cancellations disrupt those handoffs placing crews or planes ‘out of position’ for their flights.”
“In the midst of us repairing those schedules disrupted by this week’s winter storms, we’re facing an additional challenge as new FAA rules went into effect for crew rest,” she wrote. “These rules further impact our ability to operate an already disrupted schedule, causing our pilots to ‘time out’ even sooner. As a result, additional cancellations are likely to occur as we work to reset the operation.”
“It’s a combination of everything that has had a domino effect the last few days,” JetBlue spokesman Anders Lindstrom said. “As one of the largest carriers in the Northeast, weather in this area impacts our entire route network and operations.”
“They had two years to anticipate this (work hour rule) and to adjust accordingly,” Sean Cassidy, vice president of the Air Line Pilots Association told CNN. “So I think it’s overly simplistic to suggest that they could ascribe this disruption — which happens to coincide with this major, major winter snowstorm — and just hang it all on that rule-making change.”
The FAA announced the new rules in December 2011, but they went into effect Saturday.
Even Mark Murphy, founder of TravelPulse.com thinks JetBlue’s shut down is absurd. “Tying it to the storm and the FAA is a way to deflect criticism, in my opinion. In reality, I think they simply screwed up,” Murphy said. “Case in point: Look at what’s happening with other carriers. Same storm? Yes. Same FAA rules going into effect? Yes. Same disruptions? No.”
While every airline encountered weather-related trouble in the last week, none could top JetBlue’s shut down. JetBlue canceled 380 flights on Monday, about half of its schedule. This could have a significant near-term impact on JetBlue’s earnings as the airline has had to refund thousands of customers’ airfares. Some travelers may never fly JetBlue again after this weekend.
According to FlightAware, here’s how the flight cancellations breaks down:
- Total delays this week: 36,425
- Total delays within, into, or out of the United States this week: 19,531
- Total cancellations this week: 11,169
- Total cancellations within, into, or out of the United States this week: 9,923
JetBlue shuts down Boston, NYC operations due to weather
JetBlue Airways has stopped all scheduled flights to and from New York and Boston as it deals with a blast of freezing temperatures that has caused massive cancellations and delays.
JetBlue reaching out to each customer to make amends
JetBlue plans to resume some flights at Boston’s Logan Airport this morning and get back to full operations by mid-afternoon after the freezing temperatures caused it to shut down operations there yesterday.
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