The chief executive of US low-cost carrier JetBlue has promised “much cheaper” transatlantic fares as he confirmed plans for services from New York and Boston to London would begin next year.
Robin Hayes would not confirm which London airports the airline would fly in and out of but said JetBlue‘s use of narrow-bodied aircraft gave it “different solutions” and was “confident” it would be “more than one”.
The launch will “probably” be in the third quarter of 2021, added Hayes, who did not rule out flights to other European capitals or secondary cities.
Hayes said that the loyalty of JetBlue’s customers in the US would secure enough demand for the route, and pointed to the growth of its New York-Los Angeles transcontinental service as evidence its model works.
Speaking in a virtual World Travel Market session, he said: “There is a lot of service between London and New York, but fares are extremely high.”
Hayes said JetBlue was able to “slash” fares across the market since it launched New York-Los Angeles routes, and that the busines model was justified by the growth in services between JFK and LAX, from 11 to 35.
He said he was “really confident” of a “very significant downward adjustment in premium fares” and expected ‘Core’ [economy] fares to be lower than those offered by competitors.
Noting London is the largest market out of the airline’s heartlands in New York and Boston that JetBlue doesn’t fly to, Hayes said: “Our customers are asking for it.”
The millions of “extremely loyal” members of JetBlue’s frequent flyer programme would help fill seats, he added, accepting however that the carrier was not well-known in Europe.
“We are 100% committed and 100% sure it will work,” Hayes said of the transatlantic expansion, but noted the airline’s use of narrow-bodied aircraft which can fly both long and short-haul routes meant: “If it doesn’t work, we will take the [larger] fuel tank out of the airplanes and fly them somewhere else.”
Hayes said JetBlue expects “tremendous pent-up demand” next summer and said it was “the perfect time to introduce all my friends in the UK and Europe to the positive effects of flying JetBlue” and “giving them a much cheaper way of flying between the UK and the US.”
He added: “We want to have a profound effect. We want our legacy to be ‘this is the airline that came along and brought down premium fares profitably’.”
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