JetBlue’s April announcement of plans to begin transatlantic services to London in 2021 already appears to be nipping the heels of some of the route’s standard carriers.
In the same month as JetBlue’s announcement, Delta Airlines and Virgin also made clear their future intentions. Both will launch additional services between London (Gatwick), Boston and JFK in 2020. More recently, in June, Delta unveiled its new business cabin configuration for the London-bound B767-400.
JetBlue’s A321LRs are slated to operate along the new European routes. The aircraft will be configured with the company’s premium ‘Mint’ business class. CNBC reports that JetBlue said it plans to offer Mint “for a fraction of what other airlines are charging today for premium seats.”
JetBlue’s foray ‘across the pond’ has long been expected. The airline already offers longer haul services to the Caribbean, Central and South America, but is due to start flying to Europe in the coming years.
The announcement by the Long Island LCC will inevitably disrupt the transatlantic travel market. The market is currently dominated by major international airlines such as Delta and European players. Over 75% of routes are currently serviced by large carrier alliances.
Its intention to add London to the network has led some insiders to forecast a sea change. The Mail Online speculates that its arrival on the scene could force other airlines to reduce their fares by as much as 12%.
Battle lines drawn
One Mile at a Time suggests the announcement of Delta and Virgin was timed to preempt JetBlue’s communiqué. Furthermore, what appears to have urged Delta Air Lines to readdress their B767-400 cabin configuration is JetBlue’s Mint-configured A321LRs.
JetBlue hopes its popular Mint premium will release corporate travelers from a stranglehold maintained for years by the larger airline monopolies. Mint, as a premium airline product, has been offered to business travelers since 2013. The cabin features include a massage chair, lie-flat bed, seat back touchscreen and high-speed WiFi.
Delta’s new cabin – Delta One – is set to launch in the latter part of this year. The cabin features a seat with improved privacy, more storage space, adjustable lighting and an 18″ high-resolution entertainment screen.
Further challenges for JetBlue
The intended route expansion presents several challenges to JetBlue. Not least of all, it seems likely in the wake of the announcements already from Delta and Virgin that the airlines the LCC intends to compete with will not go down without a fight.
JetBlue President and Chief Operating Officer Joanna Geraghty is, nevertheless, optimistic. She stands by her company’s ability to hold its own amid already stiff competition.
According to Forbes, Geraghty said of the move,
“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.”
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