JetBlue has today revealed a target date for its London launch using its forthcoming Airbus A321LR aircraft. While we knew it would be next year, today CEO Robin Hayes has confirmed it is likely to be within the third quarter of 2021. By this time next year, London could be welcoming the blue disruptor to one of its airports.
JetBlue targeting Q3 2021
When we heard from JetBlue’s CEO Robin Hayes back in May, the lively airline boss was confident that the launch of the London routes would still be going ahead next year. Originally, the airline had planned to begin flying to London in early 2021, but speculation abounded that the pandemic might have knocked the wind out of its sails.
However, while Hayes admitted that the timeline might have been pushed a little as a result of the crisis, he was bullish in assuring the naysayers that things would still be happening in that year.
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Now, thanks to further pressing from Bloomberg today, Hayes has almost been pinned down on a date. He told the news service,
“Well it’s going to be later in 2021 than we originally thought … I don’t want to put an exact date on that because we don’t even have the airplane yet. That’s coming early next year, but I think my expectation is that in some point in quarter three we’ll launch.”
For those with the pleasure of not living life one quarter at a time, the third quarter of the year runs from July to September, so that’s a pretty positive outlook from the CEO. He could have said in the second half, which would have had us speculating whether it would be Christmas before we could fly JetBlue transatlantic.
What still needs to be done?
Looking at the facts, it seems like none of the delay in launching the route is coming from the airline’s side. The A321LR should have been delivered this year, but due to delays on the Airbus side, that’s now not going to happen until early next year.
Once the aircraft begin to arrive, there are still lots of other issues to contend with. Hayes explained,
“We’ve got to get the airplane and then we have to complete our ETOPS and what I’ve learned in this business is never get ahead of your regulator and announce dates before you’ve got your regulator to approve what you want to do. I’m confident we’ll do that; we’re already planning on that process but let’s get that in the can and then we’re ready to fly.”
With COVID impacting all sectors of businesses and public bodies, there is still a chance there could be delays to the approvals process that JetBlue needs in order to fly. None of this will be the airline’s fault, and it makes sense for Hayes to be cautiously optimistic, given the very uncertain times we are currently living through.
Catching summer traffic
Regardless of the challenges that are being faced by airlines all over the world right now, JetBlue’s CEO is confident that this new route is just what is needed. He told Bloomberg,
“I still expect leisure demand between the US and Europe to recover at some point in 2021. A lot of people have been putting off trips that they want to take, so I actually think our timing is quite good.
“I actually think that, for some people, flying on a smaller airplane with less people is going to be a benefit. We’ll be flying the 321 and what JetBlue has done from the beginning here in the US is to be a real leader in safety.
“We’re still blocking middle seats, we’re still going through enhanced cleaning procedures we’re now trialing UV robots to clean and sterilize the airlines, and I think as we start flying to Europe, those things will continue to be very important.”
JetBlue was the first US airline to mandate mask-wearing and continues to raise the bar in keeping its customers and crew safe and well. The airline’s idea of feeling safer on a small plane makes sense, and with competitive pricing and an all-new Mint product on board, it could well become the best way to cross the Atlantic.
As for the airport to which it will fly, Hayes wouldn’t be drawn. He said,
“We have a number of options. We expect to load in our schedules several months before we start flying, which is when will share the exciting news about which airport were launching to.”
We can’t wait to find out!