US budget carrier JetBlue last night confirmed plans to start multiple daily transatlantic flights from both Boston and New York JFK to London in 2021.
The new routes to the UK would become the carrier’s first to Europe but are subject to government approval.
The fifth largest US airline by passengers carried is still evaluating which London airports to serve and fare levels have yet to be revealed.
JetBlue wants to deploy long-range Airbus A321LR single aisle aircraft on the routes with a version of its Mint premium in-flight service which will feature more lie-flat seats than currently on offer on the carrier’s existing A321s.
Live television and free high-speed wi-fi broadband access will be offered as it seeks to challenge established carriers such as British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and US rivals including American Airlines, United and Delta on North Atlantic routes alongside low cost challenger Norwegian.
JetBlue CEO Robin Hayes is set to deliver the keynote address at the Aviation Club in London today (Thursday) where he will discuss the plans, address competition concerns and airport access challenges in Europe.
The expected public announcement of London flights after weeks of speculation follows an “extensive internal review” by the carrier, which has been serving international routes for almost 15 years from the US to the Caribbean and Latin America.
Aiming to offer a “fresh choice” between the US and UK, the carrier wants to “raise the bar” on what travellers can expect from a low-cost carrier.
President and chief operating officer Joanna Geraghty, outlining the move for the 19-year old airline, said: “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 the 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.”
JetBlue will initially convert 13 aircraft in an existing A321 order book to the LR version with the ability to convert more.
Geraghty added: “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 success Mint has had on driving down the exorbitant air fares that our competitors were charging, stimulating new demand, and forcing the entrenched carriers to up their game, is a big reason we believe London is the next natural market for JetBlue to be successful and make a positive impact on consumers.”
Additional details about specific schedules, when seats will go on sale, as well as more information about transatlantic Mint offering will be announced in the coming months.
A Civil Aviation Authority spokesman said: “A non-European based airline wishing to operate services to the UK would need to apply for a foreign carrier’s permit. At present, the UK CAA has not received an application from Jetblue.”
The process of obtaining a permit could take several months.
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