The Long Beach city council has voted to tighten slot allocation rules at Long Beach in order to use all available capacity more efficiently, The Press-Telegram has reported. jetBlue Airways (B6, New York JFK), the market leader at the Californian airport, stands to be affected the most.

According to the new rules, carriers will be required to utilise at least 85% of their allocated slots over any year-long period. This is a stark increase in comparison to the current rules, which require only a 57% rate of utilisation over any 180 days.

jetBlue currently has a 66% rate of slot utilisation at Long Beach. The airline operates 157 weekly departures out of Long Beach and has a 59.4% market share by capacity, the ch-aviation capacity module shows.

The carrier has long been at odds with the city and airport authorities. The most recent hiccup for jetBlue's operations at Long Beach came when the city council halted establishing a customs facility at the airport and by doing so blocked the airline's planned international expansion.

In response, jetBlue announced it would drop its Long Beach-Fort Lauderdale Int'l route in January 2019. The carrier also returned 12 out of 35 daily slots it holds at the airport in September 2018 and said it would instead resume flying to nearby Ontario and expand at Burbank.

Southwest Airlines (WN, Dallas Love Field), which is already the second-largest carrier at Long Beach and has been looking to add new slots at the airport, might scoop some of the freed up capacity if jetBlue is forced to return slots. The LCC currently operates 77 weekly departures and has a 27.8% market share by capacity at Long Beach.

FedEx Express (FX, Memphis Int'l) and UPS Airlines (5X, Louisville Int'l) are also reportedly below the new threshold of an 85% utilisation rate, but by a smaller margin than jetBlue.