IAG Isn’t Too Worried About JetBlue’s Transatlantic Launch

JetBlue is set to join the fierce competition in the transatlantic market later this year. With this, dominant airlines from IAG will have a new competitor to deal with. Speaking at today’s earnings call, CEO of IAG Luis Gallego was not overly concerned with the new entrant to the market, while British Airways CEO Sean Doyle believes his airline’s product will allow it to remain competitive.

Airbus A321LR, JetBlue, Transatlantic Flights
JetBlue will bring its A321LR to London later this year. Photo: Airbus

IAG boss not concerned about JetBlue

IAG, owners of British Airways, Aer Lingus, Iberia, LEVEL and Vueling, has a new competitor on the block. With New York-based JetBlue set to enter the transatlantic foray this summer, some of the group’s airlines will go head to head for traffic share on this lucrative international route.

Speaking at today’s earnings call, group CEO Luis Gallego spoke warmly about JetBlue, noting its already close working relationship and opportunities to do more. He said,

“We have a good relationship with JetBlue. For example, with Aer Lingus, we are working very well for a long time now. You know also that they are developing their relationship with American Airlines, that is our partner in the joint business. We have a lot of ways to work together, and that’s something we are exploring now.”

JetBlue has had a partnership with Aer Lingus since 2008, which expanded into a codeshare in 2013. It was JetBlue’s first international partnership. When the pair celebrated their 10th anniversary of working together, more than 600,000 passengers had already connected onto Aer Lingus services from JetBlue flights.

JetBlue Aer Lingus
JetBlue and Aer Lingus have had a partnership for more than 12 years now. Photo: Aer Lingus

Nevertheless, with JetBlue moving into the transatlantic market, the carrier is now more of a competitor than a feeder to Aer Lingus flights. But Gallego doesn’t seem worried, noting that, as far as the model of the A321LR on the North Atlantic goes, IAG already has its own competing offering. He said,

“It’s true also that they are going to start flying the North Atlantic with the narrowbody aircraft, and I think it’s going to be an interesting product. But we have also that opportunity on Aer Lingus. They are flying also the A321 long range. And it’s an opportunity that we have now with, for example, the new flights that we are expecting from Manchester, and I think with that type of aircraft, it’s an area that we can develop in the in the group.”

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What about British Airways?

While BA doesn’t operate any narrowbodies on the transatlantic, it does have a heavy presence on what’s likely to be JetBlue’s first route – Heathrow to JFK. CEO Sean Doyle was keen to point out the product differentiation and how he believes British Airways can remain competitive, saying,

“We are continuing to … take delivery of aircraft with the brand new Club World Suite and we’re absolutely delighted with the feedback we’re getting on people’s experience with that business class product. So I think that will make us very differentiated as we look ahead in the business class segment.

“I think that the way we will compete with all the carriers in the North Atlantic is a combination of schedules, product, service and loyalty, and I’m very confident that we will be able to compete very effectively through all those leavers going forward.”

British Airways 787 Club World
Doyle believes BA’s Club World will compete strongly against JetBlue’s MINT offering. Photo: British Airways

He noted that it’s not the first time British Airways has had head to head narrowbody competition on its transatlantic stronghold. Previous services flown by Boeing 757s haven’t shaken BA from its perch, and he doesn’t believe JetBlue will either.