Speculation is mounting that US budget carrier JetBlue is considering mounting its first low-fare challenge on transatlantic routes.
Flights from New York and Boston to London are reportedly under consideration.
“We’re actively looking at it now,” JetBlue chief executive Robin Hayes said about the possibility of London service in an interview with The Independent.
“What JetBlue has always done since we started nearly 20 years ago is bring low fares with a better service, and we’d love to bring that to Europe.”
No timeframe was given on when flights could start but services could be flown by new narrow-body Airbus A321 long-range aircraft.
London flights would run from JetBlue’s two busiest hubs – New York JFK and Boston.
The carrier is expected to start taking delivery of the first of more than 80 Airbus A321neos this year. JetBlue’s order with Airbus gives it the option to convert some of those deliveries to the long-range variant.
Hayes told the newspaper that business-class fares on routes like Boston-London have risen so much that there is room to come in and undercut those with JetBlue’s new ‘Mint’ lie-flat seats.
He pointed to what’s happened on US transcontinental routes where the carrier has introduced the seats.
“Since we launched [Mint], transcontinental fares have approximately halved,” he told The Independent.
The airline’s staff have reportedly been alerted to an April 10 meeting in New York described as “a chat about JetBlue’s vision and strategy.”
Hayes is due to give a speech to the Aviation Club in London on April 11.
A JetBlue spokesman said: “We plan to announce our decision on the long range version of the A321 in 2019.”
He added: “Potential routes to Europe could provide us an opportunity to grow our focus cities of Boston and New York as we consider the best use of our aircraft from a margin perspective in those cities.”
However, a Civil Aviation Authority spokesman said: “The airline would need to apply for a foreign carrier’s permit to operate flights to the UK. At present, we have not received an application.”
British Airways and American Airlines as well the partnership between Air France-KLM, Delta Air Lines and Virgin Atlantic have traditionally dominated transatlantic routes.
But carriers such as Norwegian Air have emerged in recent years to offer lower fare alternatives.
However, Norwegian recently announced plans to raise 3 billion Norwegian kroner (£260 million) after reporting a loss for the full year.
BA owner International Airlines Group had considered making a bid for Norwegian and acquired shares in the carrier.
But it said in January that it would not make an offer for Norwegian and would sell its 3.9% stake.
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