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Mon, Apr 06, 2009

Report: Frustrated JetBlue Contemplating Move From Long Beach

Carrier Unhappy With Progress Of Airport Facility Improvements

A JetBlue Airways spokeswoman said last week that the carrier is considering moving its West Coast base of operations and cutting flights into Long Beach Airport (LGB), because JetBlue management has become frustrated and increasingly impatient for planned airport facility improvements to become a reality.

According to The Los Angeles Times, JetBlue spokeswoman Jenny Dervin indicated that while no specific plan of action has been decided upon, the carrier is weighing its options, including a shift of flights to other airports in the area. "It is regrettable, and that's not our choice," Dervin said.

"But we have to face the facts that we are in temporary trailers, and that's not acceptable. It doesn't serve our customers, and it doesn't serve our brand. We want to go where we are wanted," she said.

JetBlue Chief Executive Dave Barger told aviation blog Crankyflier.com the slow pace of improvements at LGB "has been a huge frustration for us. They need to make good on their commitment to improve the airport experience," he said. "People might have to go to LAX to use us, because we're actually wanted there."

Dervin confirmed Barger’s remarks, but denied they were a ploy to brow-beat Long Beach airport officials. "It is not a threat. It's simply an expression of frustration," she said.

Long Beach Airport spokeswoman Sharon Diggs-Jackson said she was surprised by the airline’s remarks, and indicated that airport officials knew nothing of JetBlue’s thoughts of leaving or cutting service. Quite to the contrary, she said JetBlue had plans to add another flight in May.

Diggs-Jackson said that airport officials had been compelled to re-evaluate expansion plans due to the present economy. Plans include construction of new waiting areas and gates as well as a new parking structure and more concessions.

Long Beach is one of JetBlue’s five major bases and its West Coast "anchor," with two dozen or more flights departing daily.

FMI: www.jetblue.com, www.lgb.org

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