JetBlue announced it intends to launch multiple daily flights from Boston and New York to London in 2021, the carrier’s first European destination.
The new routes, which will be served by Airbus A321LR single-aisle aircraft with a reimagined version of Mint, will mark the first-ever transatlantic service offered by the airline.
JetBlue is evaluating which London airports it will serve.
“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
The airline’s Mint premium experience, which disrupted transcontinental travel in the U.S. with accessible fares and a thoughtful reinvention of the business class cabin, promises to offer transatlantic customers a fresh choice.
Growth into Europe is the next natural step in JetBlue’s focus city expansion strategy, with London being the largest destination not served by JetBlue from both New York and Boston. The new service will strengthen JetBlue’s relevance in its two largest focus cities while also answering calls from loyal business and leisure customers who have, until now, been forced to fly other carriers to and from London.
The highly anticipated announcement, which comes after an extensive internal review, was made in New York at a crewmember event at John F. Kennedy International Airport. More than 1,300 crewmembers filled the airline’s hangar to hear CEO Robin Hayes and President & COO Joanna Geraghty outline the historic move for the 19-year old airline.
“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,” said Geraghty. “It’s time for regulators here in the U.S. 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.”
Travelers flying across the North Atlantic between the northeast U.S. and London have long faced sky-high fares, particularly in premium cabins, or mediocre service in a market effectively controlled by legacy carriers and their massive joint ventures. Alternatively, a handful of low-cost carriers have attempted to enter with a no-frills, bare-bones approach to flying offering little in the way of complimentary amenities or the kind of service that JetBlue has become famous for in the Americas. Particularly in Europe, JetBlue will raise the bar on what travelers can expect from a low-cost carrier.
“It’s great news that JetBlue is expanding into London and we will be delighted to welcome leisure and business visitors from Boston and New York with these new routes,” said Laura Citron, CEO, London & Partners. “North America is already London’s largest overseas market but is growing significantly year on year, so extra connectivity and capacity to allow even more people to discover our city is very exciting news. We know that Americans visit London for its exciting history and creativity, from Shakespeare to the birth of punk and the catwalks of today. This creative energy and cultural vibrancy can be felt in every aspect of London life and we look forward to sharing it with more global visitors.”
“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.
The A321LR will allow JetBlue to tap into new long-haul markets that were not previously accessible with its current single-aisle aircraft. JetBlue will initially convert 13 aircraft in its existing A321 order book to the LR version with the ability to convert more.
“JetBlue has pioneered new travel possibilities for their customers for years,” said Christian Scherer, Airbus Chief Commercial Officer. “All of us at Airbus are honored to provide the strategic aircraft platform to enable this next chapter in the story of our partners at JetBlue.”