JetBlue Will Delay The Launch Of Its London Route

Boutique US carrier JetBlue had planned to enter the transatlantic market next year with A321LR service to Europe. However, those plans could be delayed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the devastation it has caused to the aviation industry. The media had a chance to inquire about the airline’s future plans during an earnings call today.

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JetBlue had planned to launch service to Europe in 2021. Photo: Getty Images

“We know we’re going to emerge as a smaller airline, but we still see that opportunity, albeit shifted back a little bit in time.” – Robin Hayes, CEO, JetBlue

The original plan

It was at a meeting just over a year ago that JetBlue officially announced that it would be offering daily service from New York and Boston to London starting in 2021. The airline was to operate the transatlantic flights on new Airbus A321LR aircraft.

However, speaking at today’s Q1 earnings call, the airline’s CEO said that the public should expect the timing of this service to be impacted.

“We’re probably going a little later than we intended. But the market will recover at some point and the need for us to enter that market and bring more competition is still as relevant in the future as it was in the past,” Hayes warned.

JetBlue A220
JetBlue will be going ahead with taking delivery of one Airbus A220-300 in the 2nd half of this year. Initially, the airline was aiming for five in 2020. Photo: Airbus

New developments with London slots

PaxEx.Aero rightly points out there is one advantage for JetBlue in the midst of this crisis: Delaying the launch of service could mean better slot availability at London’s busiest airports. In fact, the airline may be able to avoid buying slots on the open market in order to gain access to Heathrow or Gatwick.

In fact, the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) indicated today that it “identified potential competition concerns on routes between London and each of Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Miami and Philadelphia.” As a result, legacy carriers British Airways and American Airlines will be asked to surrender some of their flight slots at London Gatwick or Heathrow in the interest of competition.

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JetBlue operates a mix of Airbus and Embraer narrowbody jets. Photo: JetBlue.

The aviation scene could look quite different by the time JetBlue is ready to launch its transatlantic services. Slots could become much more available either because of the CMA’s decision or from other airlines simply shrinking their operations and focusing more on their respective strengths. Virgin Atlantic and Norwegian might be two airlines that could drawback just enough for JetBlue to gain a foothold in this busy corridor.

Conclusion

JetBlue’s service and price points seem unique enough that it will likely draw a good amount of interest on its future transatlantic service. It certainly seems to have a reasonably loyal following already.

So while service to London will be delayed, it’s most certainly not canceled. When dates are announced, Simple Flying will definitely be one of the first to report the story!

Are you excited for JetBlue to begin its transatlantic service to the United Kingdom? Let us know your thoughts by leaving a comment!

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