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At the beginning of 2019, JetBlue announced its intention to begin flying transatlantic flights to London in 2021. However, since then the airline has been vague and details have been non-existent.
In May of 2020, on a quarterly earnings call, JetBlue CEO Robin Hayes said the airline planned to move forward with serving London from their airline bases at New York (JFK) and Boston Logan (BOS) despite current challenges.
Hayes acknowledged the uncertainty with launching anytime soon saying “We wouldn’t be starting that today,” and then continued “we’ll probably go a little later than we intended.”
SECURING SLOTS @LHR
Well, according the UK Aviation News, it appears that JetBlue has secured London Heathrow slots for its new London service starting next year.
Up to this point, it had been unclear whether JetBlue was planning to utilize London Heathrow (LHR) or London Gatwick (LGW). However, landing rights at either airport are limited, tightly controlled and expensive.
For simplicity, every airline has the desire to fly to London, but just because you desire to fly to London doesn’t mean you actually can. Essentially, you have to purchase the right to land at the airport(s) and it’s expennnnsive!!
In 2016, Oman Air bought their record-breaking Heathrow slot pairs for $75 million…and that’s only for one daily flight. Ouch!
Clearly the pandemic has changed a few things and opened some doors at LHR but it’s unclear how JetBlue obtained the slots or when service will actually begin.
In May, airline partners American Airlines and British Airways announced they would be relinquishing slots at the London hubs so it’s possible that JetBlue could be borrowing these slots from AA but given this a ‘bread and butter’ route for AA, I’m not sure they (AA) would want that kind of competition from JetBlue from the same departure airports in the US.
RECEIVING NEW PLANES
The new transatlantic service to London (and eventually additional destinations in Europe) will be made utilizing 13 Airbus A321LRs that the airline has ordered and can easily cover that distance.
But interestingly, since the initial order, the airline has also place an order for 13 A321XLRs, which have even more range and will be able to operate nonstop flights of up to 10 hours, though they won’t be delivered until 2023 at the earliest.
Personally, I am really excited about this development, not because I’m interested in traveling to London (I dislike London with a passion, but that’s another blog), rather I am extremely geeked about reviewing their Mint premium product (JetBlues business class) which I’ve heard is one of the best products on the market. A low cost carrier with a business class better than legacy carriers? I’m in!!
In addition, American and BA have a major (perhaps, overwhelming) presence on the transatlantic market thus very little competition. Jetblue would increase that competition and we all know what happens when there is more competition…lower prices! However, that’s still a grey area given the airline industry has been impacted severely from COVID-19.
We still don’t have any details about the launch but one thing is clear…JetBlue is not letting go of this idea of flying to London. Whether it’s feasible or a good idea is to be seen.
What do you think about this idea of JetBlue flying to London?