JetBlue will fly between Buffalo and Los Angeles. But why?

JetBlue will fly between Buffalo and Los Angeles. Photo: JetBlue.

JetBlue will fly between Buffalo and Los Angeles. Photo: JetBlue.

JetBlue Airways said Monday it will fly nonstop year-round between Buffalo and Los Angeles beginning on June 16. 

I get a lot of these new route emails, and I usually ignore them. But Buffalo to L.A.? My apologies to the people of Buffalo - I'm sure it's a great place - but this is an odd one. What made it more unusual is that JetBlue executives were joined by New York Sen. Chuck Schumer at a press conference in Buffalo to announce the new route. It made it seem more political than most route announcements. 

"In 2013, I asked JetBlue to add this flight, knowing it would be a game changer for regional tourism in Western New York, and I am now thrilled they have heeded our call," Schumer said in the JetBlue release. 

There are often reasons for airlines to add flights to L.A. from smaller airports. Last month, for example, American Airlines announced a slew of Buffalo-style routes from L.A., including to Hartford, Kansas City and Omaha. But American plays a different game in L.A. American can take people from Kansas City to Los Angeles, but it can also connect them at LAX to Shanghai and Tokyo and Auckland and Sydney. The mixture of connecting and local traffic often bodes well for a route that can seem unusual at first glance. 

JetBlue has none of that in L.A. It can take people from Buffalo to Los Angeles, and that's it. It's not a big deal to fly from Boston to Los Angeles and not carry many connecting passengers, since there are plenty of people wanting to fly nonstop every day. But it is hard for a flight from a smaller city to stay profitable without connections. There are a few connections West Coast-originating passengers could make in Buffalo, but I don't see many Angelenos changing planes there while going to Boston, New York or Florida.

Here's the schedule for the new flight.

BUF – LAX Flight #491. 6:40 p.m. – 9:06 p.m.

LAX – BUF Flight #492.  10:09 p.m. – 6:05 a.m. +1

This route surprised me. But perhaps I am analyzing it wrong. What do you think? Why will JetBlue fly Los Angeles-Buffalo?