JetBlue launches flights to London using the A321LR

Lauren Eldershaw
By Lauren Eldershaw April 11, 2019 12:56

JetBlue launches flights to London using the A321LR

JetBlue intends to launch multiple daily flights to London in 2021 from both New York and Boston using the Airbus A321LR single-aisle aircraft with a reimagined version of Mint, its premium business-class level product.

JetBlue will initially convert 13 aircraft in its existing A321 order book to the LR version with the ability to convert more. The airline states that the conversion does not impact JetBlue’s external financial commitments or represent incremental capital expenditures as the current order book remains the same.

The A321LR – dubbed the Goldilocks aircraft by some – is opening up new routes for airlines, with TAP Portugal taking delivery of the first just last week. For JetBlue, the aircraft opens up the possibility of transatlantic operations.

“Twenty years ago, our founders had a simple formula for choosing a new market – it had to be overpriced, underserved, or both,” said Joanna Geraghty, president and chief operating officer, JetBlue. “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.”

She added: “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.”

In the official announcement, JetBlue says that growth into Europe is the “next natural step” in its city expansion strategy, with London being the largest destination not served by JetBlue from both New York and Boston.

The move will directly challenge Norwegian, which is struggling financially with the latest MAX and Trent engine problems adding to its woes, but it again begs the question of whether transatlantic low-cost models work. Legacy carriers are pursuing more and more codeshares to streamline costs and compete along these heavily served routes, and new competition will only serve to solidify this. Great news for the consumer in the short-term as prices will come down but its long-term viability is a matter for debate.

JetBlue is emphasising its Mint product as the gamechanger for its new transatlantic routes, with a redesigned product featuring more lie-flat seats than currently offered on the airline’s existing A321 aircraft.

“The success Mint has had on driving down the exorbitant airfares 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,” said Geraghty.

In a research note, Cowen and Company, refers to JetBlue’s success of using Mint to disrupt markets with the best example Los Angeles and San Francisco. “We expect the company will look to make a splash with initial fares below the market with a high level of service customers associate with JetBlue,” it says, although notes that ultra-low and low-cost carriers (U/LCCs) “have had little success against the alliances / joint ventures in the transatlantic, so JetBlue will have likely experienced some growing pains, but given their presence in Boston and New York, we believe the new service is a no brainer, especially if the company can gain access to Heathrow and other large airports. The company indicated they will roll out additional details in the coming months”.

Lauren Eldershaw
By Lauren Eldershaw April 11, 2019 12:56