Jet Blue is in desperate need of slots at London Heathrow in order to launch Transatlantic services. Jet Blue’s CEO reportedly told Flight Global that the carrier requires slots at times that people want to fly, rather than what is available. With two London airports operating at capacity, airlines either have to be creative or pay millions for the privilege of operation. It is unclear whether Jet Blue is close to buying any slots, or whether any are even currently available.
London – City At Capacity
Two of London’s six airports are currently running at capacity. Both Heathrow and Gatwick are currently running at capacity. While Heathrow is looking at building a third runway to increase capacity, Gatwick is looking to use its emergency runway full time. As such, slots at Heathrow are worth an awful lot of money. A great example of how expensive the slots can be, is the sale of a Kenya Airlines pair to Oman Air, for a time of 6.30am arrival and departure at 8.25am every day, for $75 million. In fact, airlines even operate ghost flights to keep their slots during quieter winter schedules. With this in mind, even if Jet Blue is able to find a pair of slots to purchase, they won’t come cheap, and may not even be at a suitable time.
What Are Jet Blue’s Options?
If Jet Blue were to launch Transatlantic flights to London, they would likely be operating the Airbus A321LR. It wouldn’t be beyond the realms of possibility to operate flights from London’s Stansted Airport. In fact, before going bankrupt, Primera Air used to operate transatlantic flights from this airport. Even if it was a temporary measure while awaiting slots at Heathrow it would at least allow the airline to commence services.
Stansted is often shunned as a secondary airport, partly due to its location, and also due to its reputation as a low-cost hub. Carriers shouldn’t be so quick to dismiss the location, however. Although it takes passengers slightly longer to get into the city centre, the airport still operates a non-stop express train like Heathrow. It may not be ideal, but Stansted has the capacity for operators like Jet Blue and would come in substantially cheaper than at one of the world’s busiest airports.
What Will Jet Blue Do?
In all likeliness Jet Blue will probably wait until it can purchase slots to launch its London route. While this means that the airline will have to wait longer to start operations, they likely don’t want the hassle of transferring operations between London airports. We will have to see if any slots become for sale and whether Jet Blue is willing to pay the price for these.
Do you think Jet Blue will launch London flights any time soon? Let us know in the comments down below!