After years of teasing the prospect, JetBlue today confirmed plans to expand its international network over the Atlantic with nonstop service from the East Coast to the United Kingdom.
This will be JetBlue’s first foray into Europe as the carrier has generally focused on the American domestic market with select Caribbean/Latin American destinations.
JetBlue Nonstop Service to London from Boston & NYC
JetBlue will operate daily flights from both Boston Logan BOS and New York JFK to London (which area airport was not announced) with the first flight scheduled for 2021. Utilizing Airbus's long-range A321LR kitted with Mint Service, the airline will be able to attract both premium and leisure travelers on the route while keeping costs down by flying a variation of a plane already in its fleet.
Citing obscene business class prices, JetBlue CEO Robin Hayes dropped hints on the carrier's plans back in September 2018 at the London Aviation Festival. “I looked at some legacy brands and what they were charging a week out for business class between London and New York and it is obscene..eight, nine or ten thousand dollars. And, when we see that, we know that we can do that a lot cheaper.”
Related: JetBlue's Mint Service Reviewed
And that’s what the New York-based carrier is banking on.
JetBlue’s success in the already saturated transatlantic market will most likely come down to its Mint service. Which has become a fan favorite among biz class flyers stateside since being introduced in 2014, and will most likely see a refresh in layout on the aircraft serving the newly slated service. By offering a competitive and cheaper alternative for business flyers than entrenched players Delta/Virgin Atlantic and British Airways/American on these city-to-city markets, JetBlue should see the front of their London bound planes fill up in no time. This will be a crucial component of how profitable JetBlue’s overseas experiment can be, as well as a green light for expansion elsewhere in Europe.
Following Boston Logan and New York JFK, the next likely move would be Ft. Lauderdale FLL where the carrier boasts its most robust route networks allowing for feeder flights from across the US to connect onward to London. While BOS/JFK to LHR/LGW falls within the range of the Airbus 321LR, nonstop flights from Ft. Lauderdale are slightly out and would require the airline to look into wider-bodied aircraft if the new routes prove successful.
Don’t get ready for the tea party quite yet. Similarly to Southwest Airlines and its arduous path to get its service to Hawaii off the ground, JetBlue will face similar obstacles on its European expansion.
While JetBlue waits to receive its order of Airbus A321LRs (assuming they're delivered on time), JetBlue will still have to get verification for ETOPS compliance before the inaugural flight. That means months of testing and certifications on the new model will need to take place before JetBlue can begin selling tickets to passengers.