At what seems like the 11th hour, JetBlue has secured the coveted Heathrow slots for its London services. The airport is set to receive JetBlue’s shiny new A321LRs as soon as August 2nd, just weeks into the summer holidays and with plenty of time left for lockdown weary travelers to enjoy a hop across the pond.
Heathrow slots for JetBlue this summer
While the excitement for JetBlue’s first foray into Europe has been growing for months, the airline has been keeping tight-lipped about exactly when and where we’ll see its Airbus narrowbodies touch down. Back in November, it seemed the airline had missed out on those coveted slots at London Heathrow and was therefore going to be left with options at either Gatwick or Stansted.
Even as late as earlier today, it seemed the airline had missed out on its most desired position in London.
Neither Gatwick nor Stansted would have been a disaster, but for an ambitious airline planning an exceptional inaugural, Heathrow would have been the crowning glory. We don’t know what strings they had to pull to make it happen, but it seems the airline has secured its dream come blue with the slots at the flagship airport for this year.
The latest report from Airport Slot Coordination Limited (ACL-UK) published earlier today, however, revealed that the airline had indeed secured slots for its services. JetBlue has been allocated a total of 270 slots at LHR, of which 90 are earmarked for Boston and 180 for JFK.
In terms of the timing of the slots, the airline has been awarded 14 slots starting in the week of August 2nd, so could potentially start daily service from then onwards. From the week of September 13th, that number rises to 22, and then to 28 in the week starting September 20th. It remains at that frequency through to the end of the summer season (end October)
The airline is still reluctant to confirm anything at their end. In a statement to Simple Flying, JetBlue said,
We can’t wait to launch transatlantic service later this year and love all the enthusiasm and speculation for where JetBlue will touch down. We can only expect this speculation will increase as we get closer to an announcement, and we won’t comment on our specific plans until we have made a final decision on our initial London airport.
We have always said that we have a viable path into more than one London airport and that over the long term we expect to serve multiple airports in London – just as we do in New York, Los Angeles, South Florida, and Washington, D.C. JetBlue has applied for multiple slots at various airports and we are discussing the availability of various permanent and temporary slots with the slot coordinators. Those discussions are continuing and we will evaluate what each London airport is proposing before making a final decision that best supports our transatlantic strategy. We believe JetBlue’s incredible service and low fares would be welcomed in all of London’s area airports, and we look forward to sharing official news once we have completed the process with each airport.
Following the breadcrumbs
Although the airline is yet to make an official announcement on its route, the internet has been abuzz with rumors for weeks. In the past few days, these ramped up significantly, as it seems the airline loaded Heathrow into its booking engine, as well as having it pop up in other places around its website. This gave eagle-eyed avgeeks all the clues they needed to anticipate the official announcement.
Indeed, on London Heathrow’s own website, the terminal finder has listed B6 as an operator from Terminal 2 as of August 2nd, 2021. Since social media lit up with rumors of today’s announcement, the airline removed LHR from its booking engine. But the Heathrow information remained… all we need now is the nod from the airline itself.
JetBlue will fly in its A321LR aircraft, featuring a premium heavy configuration with 22 Mint Suites onboard, plus two Mint Studios. All passengers can enjoy the inimitable JetBlue service onboard, with free WiFi and IFE for all.
What’s not clear yet is how the airline came by those Heathrow slots. It could have bought them for big bucks, which is unlikely in the current circumstances, or it could be leasing them on a temporary basis. With traffic predicted to remain low this summer, that’s a strong possibility. No doubt, in time, all will be revealed.
Are you ready to book your JetBlue experience? We can’t wait!