JetBlue plans to launch multiple daily flights from Boston
and New York Kennedy to London beginning in 2021.
Wednesday's announcement came nearly three years after JetBlue
first said publicly that it was considering an initiation of European service.
"The fares being charged today by airlines on these
routes, specifically on the premium end, are enough to make you blush,"
JetBlue president Joanna Geraghty said in a prepared statement.
The carrier said that it would offer lower fares than can
typically be found on New York-London flights, while providing the comfortable
cabin experience that it is known for on domestic and Caribbean flights. The savings
will be especially significant for business-class flyers, JetBlue said.
To support its transatlantic operations, JetBlue has
converted 13 Airbus A321 aircraft on order to the longer-flying A321LRs. Each
of those aircraft will have more of the business-class Mint seats than the 16
that JetBlue currently offers on transcontinental routes. The Mint cabin will
also be "reimagined" for transatlantic flying, JetBlue said. Economy
cabins will be adapted for transatlantic service, too.
"JetBlue's transatlantic core offering will be designed
for customers who already know and love the JetBlue experience as the airline
remains committed to being an industry leader in comfort and service," the
JetBlue will enter a transatlantic marketplace in which 72%
of market share is controlled by antitrust-immune joint ventures involving
Delta, United and American, according to the CAPA Centre for Aviation. The
recent generation of challengers to their reign is struggling. Most notably,
Icelandic ultralow-cost carrier Wow ceased operations late last month.
Transatlantic discount carrier Primera Air closed last fall. And Norwegian Air,
the largest upstart in the U.S.-Europe market, lost approximately $450 million
in 2018 and is now shifting its focus from growth to cost savings.
JetBlue didn't say to which London airport it will fly. The
airline said it is "evaluating which London airports it will serve."
One challenge JetBlue could face is obtaining arrival and
departure slots at capacity-constrained Heathrow and Gatwick airports, Wolfe
Research stock analyst Hunter Keay wrote in a note Wednesday afternoon.
"Relying on regulators to help is fraught with
unpredictability," he said.
Geraghty alluded to the problem in the Wednesday
"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,"
she said. "Given a chance to compete, JetBlue can have a tremendous effect
on lowering fares and stimulating traffic."