JetBlue Denied Heathrow Slots But Secures Gatwick And Stansted

JetBlue wants to serve London next year. Right now, however, the airline has not received slots at its desired airport: London Heathrow. Instead, the carrier has received slots at Gatwick and Stansted. Whether it launches flights to either of these airports is a really good question.

JetBlue A321
JetBlue has plans to fly to London, but right now, it looks like the only airports that will take them are Gatwick and Stansted. Photo: Airbus

JetBlue secures Gatwick and Stansted slots

JetBlue has received slots at Gatwick and Stansted. Reports from Airport Coordination Limited (ACL) show that JetBlue has been denied its request for 42 weekly slots at London-Heathrow for summer 2021. However, it did receive 14 weekly slots at Gatwick and 28 weekly slots at Stansted.

While getting the slots is great, most of JetBlue’s slots at Gatwick are not at the times the airline was hoping to get. The majority of Gatwick slots were 30 minutes, with some over 60 minutes, off from when JetBlue had planned to schedule flights.

JetBlue, Ski Breaks, New Routes
New York will definitely get a flight to London on JetBlue. Photo: Getty Images

The slots out of Gatwick are for flights to New York-JFK. Meanwhile, Stansted slots are for flights to Boston. Out of Gatwick, with these slots, JetBlue can only fly once per day to JFK, while it can fly twice per day out of Stansted to Boston.

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Will JetBlue go for this?

CEO Robin Hayes stated the following on an Aviation Week Webinar viewed by Simple Flying:

“To your point about Heathrow, we are very confident we have a path to more than one London airport… more to follow on that”

He does think the route will be successful, however, stating that,

“It’s going to take some time for everyone to get vaccinated, of course, it’s going to take some time for everyone to feel comfortable flying again. But I think you’ll see there’s such a inbuilt desire to travel, there is so much pent up demand. When we do our customer research, of course, there’s reluctance from some to fly right now, but very few people say that they will never want to fly again.

“So we actually think by the time we get to next summer, it’ll be nearly 18 months for some people since they had a vacation, or seen friends and family. So we actually think next summer will be relatively strong. And we therefore we think our time to serve London is actually brilliantly timed.”

JetBlue has revealed few details about London, mostly because there is so much up in the air. There are so many things that have to go right, the least of which is getting slots and an aircraft. While executives have stated they want to start flights in 2021, this is not yet guaranteed, as revealed by these slot reports.

JetBlue A321
JetBlue’s biggest issue right now is which airport or airports the airline wants to fly into. Photo: Airbus

Stansted is by far one of the least desirable airports for airlines to fly into in the London-area. It is a major low-cost hub with Ryanair as the dominant airline. While it is somewhat plausible that JetBlue goes for Gatwick flights, Stansted might not work, especially given how premium a configuration JetBlue wants to fly across the pond.

The aircraft

One exciting part of the slot reports is the number of seats the airline will fly into the airport. Based on the report, JetBlue filed requests for slots to be served with 138-seat aircraft.

The Airbus A321LR has already been selected by JetBlue to perform flights to London. As such, it seems plausible now that these aircraft will only seat 138 passengers. This, however, presents some very interesting observations.

The airline’s Airbus A321neos seat 200 passengers in a single-class layout. The single-class A321ceos also seat 200 passengers. However, the Mint-configured A321ceos fly with 159 passengers– or 21 more than what JetBlue’s A321LRs look like they will have.

It has already been revealed that JetBlue will be offering a new Mint business class and a premium-heavy configuration. So, there are two big things we can take away from this.

Mint is currently in a staggered configuration, meaning some rows are in a 1-1 configuration and others are in a 2-2. A new product, like OPERA, would change that to a uniform 1-1 configuration. Photo: STELIA Aerospace

First, either JetBlue is going for a very efficient layout and cramming in many business class seats, or else it is going for a product with a large footprint. The latter would mean JetBlue is looking at some pretty fantastic products, like the STELIA Aerospace lie-flat OPERA seat. STELIA has been focused on delivering a very private experience, which would fit well within JetBlue’s Mint portfolio.

Assuming JetBlue goes with the OPERA seat, in a 1-1 configuration, the airline would be devoting a large amount of the plane’s cabin to business class passengers. American’s transcontinental Airbus A321 shows just how much footprint a 1-1 configuration takes.

Do you think JetBlue should launch flights to Stansted and Gatwick, or should it hold out for Heathrow slots? Let us know in the comments!