Based out of New York, budget airline JetBlue has built a huge fanbase in the US. Renowned for their outstanding service and high-quality premium offering, the carrier has helped to halve the cost of transcontinental business class flights.
And, it seems, that the US is not enough for this popular low-cost carrier. It appears that for JetBlue transatlantic flights are most definitely in the game plan, although quite when we’re not sure.
‘Obscene’ business fares
CEO of the carrier, Robin Hayes, dropped the biggest hint yet that JetBlue transatlantic flights could well be on the cards. Speaking at the Aviation Festival in London, he said of JetBlue Europe flights:
“…we think it’s a good opportunity, and when the time is right to take advantage, we may very well do that.”
He commented that, when he saw last minute business class fares being offered for $8,000 to $10,000 or more, he was shocked. Labelling fares of this level ‘obscene’, he said that:
“When we see that, we know we can go in to it for a lot cheaper than that,”
Set up in 1999, JetBlue runs a hybrid business model, with super low fares but lots of luxury extras such as personal TVs and free drinks and snacks. Currently the carrier operates single aisle aircraft only and has 85 Airbus A321s on order for delivery in 2019. Hayes commented that they still had the option to upgrade their A321s to the long-range versions, should there be a need to do so.
London to Boston, budget style?
Martin St. George, vice president of commercial and planning for the carrier, said that if JetBlue London flights were to happen, they would most likely run out of Boston.
Speaking at the Cowen Global Transportation Conference, St. George commented that London was the biggest market they don’t currently serve from Boston. He said that JetBlue’s strong corporate presence in the East Coast city had led to local companies demanding that they look at London, as they are fed up paying sky high prices for their corporate travel.
The business offering from JetBlue is already a popular choice. The Mint premium product, with its lie flat beds and private ‘solo’ suites has shaken up business class travel across the US. Offering such facilities at rock bottom prices has forced other carriers to review their business models, leading to fares now standing at roughly half what they used to be. Typical advance business fares are down to around $599 from approximately $2,000 pre-JetBlue disruption.
Currently Mint business class is available on transcontinental and Caribbean services. Hayes has commented that to run JetBlue London flights from Boston would only be marginally longer in terms of flying time than Boston to San Francisco.
Transatlantic low-cost carriers
It looks like the trans-Atlantic market is due a bit of a shakeup, and none too soon we say. For years, the routes have been dominated by the British Airways – American Airlines tie up and a couple of other operators, leaving passengers often paying eye-watering prices for their hops across the pond.
The latest generation of fuel efficient aircraft are set to change all that. Now, trans-Atlantic services are within the reach of the low-cost carriers too, as companies like Norwegian, Primera Air and WOW Air have proven.
Industry sources have indicated that JetBlue have been in discussion with Gatwick, despite Norwegian already being established there. However, Hayes stipulated that if JetBlue Europe flights were to happen, they would not be competing for the same customers.
He stated that, at least for his company, the opportunity in Europe is based around the premium . Watch this space to see just how low those seats can go.
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