US carrier Jetblue has confirmed it plans to launch flights from Boston and New York to London in 2021, marking its first European venture, subject to approval.
Jetblue CEO Robin Hayes said in an interview with the Independent last month that he was weighing up the options for offering European flights. He hinted that the carrier could look at London airports other than Heathrow – particularly Gatwick and Stansted – though these details have yet to be announced.
The airline says it hopes to launch “multiple” daily services from both cities using a single-aisle Airbus A321LR with a “re-imagined version of Mint”, its premium transcontinental product (pictured). According to Jetblue, this will include more of the lie-flat seats than currently offered on A321 aircraft.
Jetblue claims it can offer Mint “for a fraction of what other airlines are charging today for premium seats”.
The airline will face competition from both legacy and low-cost carriers, with Norwegian offering flights from Gatwick to both Boston and JFK, and British Airways serving the Gatwick-JFK route. Virgin Atlantic and Delta recently announced plans to launch flights from Gatwick to both Boston and JFK in 2020.
To obtain aircraft for the route, the carrier will switch an existing order for 13 A321s to the long-range version with the ability to request further conversions.
Jetblue has become a popular choice in the US because of its low-fare model that doesn’t strip out services such as food and drinks. The airline says its customers also like that it has “the most legroom” in economy seats, complimentary snacks and drinks, live TV and free wifi.
The airline says launching transatlantic flights is “the next natural step” in its nearly 20-year history. It began flying to international destinations 15 years ago and now operates services to the Caribbean and South America, reaching as far as Ecuador and Peru.
Joanna Geraghty, president and COO of Jetblue, said: “Twenty years ago, our founders had a simple formula for choosing a new market – it had to be overpriced, underserved, or both. London is the largest metro area Jetblue doesn’t yet serve from both Boston and New York, and we could not be more thrilled to be changing that in the years ahead. The fares being charged today by airlines on these routes, specifically on the premium end, are enough to make you blush.
“The big airlines will tell you that competition has never been more robust, but the smaller airlines have never found it harder to get access. It’s time for regulators here in the US and across Europe to create conditions where smaller carriers and new entrants can thrive, instead of letting giant airlines get even bigger through joint ventures. Given a chance to compete, Jetblue can have a tremendous effect on lowering fares and stimulating traffic.”
Additional details about schedules, when seats go on sale and more information on the new Mint product will be announced in the coming months, according to the airline.
Any flight launches on the routes are subject to government approval.