JetBlue has said it will be refitting and restyling all its A320 cabins. However, various delays mean the retrofitting program is ongoing. Last week, CEO Robin Hayes confirmed that the airline is still determined to retrofit all old planes as well as taking delivery of new aircraft. The aim is that every JetBlue plane will feel brand new, even if it isn’t.
In an interview last week with the Washington Post, JetBlue CEO Robin Hayes confirmed that, despite COVID, the A320 retrofit program is ongoing. Hayes confirmed that,
“All of our A320s are going through what we call a cabin restyling. We’re replacing the interiors on all of those with new seats and new entertainment systems so that when you get on, it’s going to look like new.”
JetBlue is also due to receive its first Airbus A220 this year and has a further 70 on order. In the interview, Hayes stressed that combined with the cabin refits, the entire JetBlue fleet would feel new, even if some of the aircraft are most certainly not new.
Upgrading an aging fleet
JetBlue’s A320 fleet is not exactly young. Currently, the airline has 130 A320-200 in its fleet, with an average age of almost 15 years. Many of the aircraft haven’t been updated since they entered service and were due an upgrade.
The 43 million passengers that fly with JetBlue every year breathed a sigh of relief when the retrofitting program was announced a few years ago. But due to delays stemming from delivery issues with the airline’s new Airbus A321neos. Without the new planes, there wasn’t enough downtime to do the refits.
The next blow came in the form of coronavirus, which grounded most of the airline’s fleet. Although now the airline had plenty of time to do the work, it still had to press pause. Workers were in quarantine, factories temporarily closed, and all available cash diverted for essentials.
Hayes said, “We were actually just over halfway through that process when COVID hit, and we’ve kind of put that on pause”. However, Hayes has said that due to the low travel demand for the foreseeable future, the remaining aircraft would be refit “once demand suggests we need the airplanes”.
So when the A320s get back in the sky, what can passengers expect? The new cabins will feature Collins Aerospace Meridian seats with 32 inches pitch. At 18 inches wide, they are also the widest economy seats on the market, perfect for social distancing. Each seat will also have a 10.1-inch touchscreen, seatback screen with Thales AVANT, and ViaSat-2 entertainment products.
There will also be power outlets, adjustable headsets, and a water bottle holder. The new low-light mode offers a gentle blue glow for night-time flights. The cabins will also have an extra two rows of seating, meaning the carrier can carry 162 passengers, up from 150.
JetBlue’s overhaul of is fleet is long-awaited, and it seems as though finally it will be able to complete the project. With new aircraft, adapted fares, modern cabins, and new transatlantic routes, JetBlue looks set for a good few years. Even with the impact of the virus, the airline is making long-term investments, which should help it outlast the short-term issues.
Let us know your thoughts on JetBlue’s new cabins. Have you flown on one of the upgraded aircraft? We’d love to hear your experiences on JetBlue planes.