In an age where airlines are struggling to make even the most pared-back schedules work, a little positivity goes a long way. COO and President of JetBlue, Joanna Geraghty, was brimming with good vibes when she talked about the airline’s European launch this week, throwing the spotlight on just why JetBlue will win in this market, and how it could change the entire landscape for the better.
The Little Blue is ready to tackle the big blue
COVID has not derailed JetBlue’s ambitious plan to start flying to Europe. Despite the current challenges being experienced across the industry, the plucky US airline is still gearing up for launch. During a webinar hosted by World Aviation Festival, COO and President, Joanna Geraghty, spoke with positivity about the launch of transatlantic services.
“Our plans have definitely been delayed somewhat, but we’re still looking at a launch next year. We’re very excited about that.
“There are so many great opportunities for JetBlue as you start to bring our model across the Atlantic … it’s very expensive to fly from New York to London from Boston to London. We think we can bring the same great JetBlue experience we’ve brought to the West Coast of the United States to Europe, and do it for less money and a higher level of service, and with a fantastic product.”
Far from derailing JetBlue’s plans to tackle transatlantic, Geraghty feels that the current crisis has actually opened up more opportunities. She said,
“I do think that COVID has potentially created a number of opportunities for JetBlue in Europe, whether it’s slot availability or gate availability.”
Despite noting more flexibility on slots, which likely means JetBlue has an enhanced choice of London airport to fly into, Geraghty remained schtum on exactly where it would land. In fact, she said that the final decision is yet to be made,
“We have not chosen an airport yet. I think that’s actually been a really great decision to hold off and wait, because our focus is on the right airport at the right cost and making sure that it fits our model.”
Clearly JetBlue is keen to make its London flights a resounding success and wants every piece of the puzzle to be a perfect fit.
Disrupting the market, JetBlue style
On America’s West Coast, JetBlue’s magic mix of highly competitive fares coupled with better-than-low-cost levels of service and amenities has won a loyal fan base and formed the foundations of its success. But the JetBlue effect is much more than just that.
By proving that it was possible to fly in comfort, with IFE, with free WiFi and with exemplary service, JetBlue disrupted the market. It made other airlines look bad, and forced them to raise their game. If your first class seat on a domestic US service is a lie-flat proposition, you’ve got JetBlue to thank for that.
Geraghty has high hopes that the JetBlue effect will stretch across the Atlantic too. She said,
“I think our West Coast business has helped us understand the needs of the premium customer. We’re aware of what the transatlantic product looks like for every other airline out there. We’ve studied that extensively. We know what works and what doesn’t work, both at the front of the cabin and in the coach experience.
“There’s a lot of opportunity in the transatlantic market for JetBlue. At the price point that we tend to enter, I do think carriers are going to react to it. The JetBlue effect… it stimulates demand, it drives prices down and it forces everybody to raise their game and that’s fundamentally good for the consumer.
“If we get the same reaction that we got from the West Coast, which is more lie-flat seats, better service in the front of the cabin and lower costs, then I think the consumer will benefit.
“Our focus has always been on doing something great for the consumer … I think the JetBlue effect will drive that across the industry and across the Atlantic.”
Will people really want to fly transatlantic in a narrowbody?
Joanna Geraghty has some bold ambitions for her disruptive airline. And if there’s one market that needs disrupting, it’s the US to Europe one.
But other airlines have tried this before, and it hasn’t always gone well. WOW Air’s super-low fares, albeit with very basic service, just didn’t add up in the end. Primera’s shot across the pond spelled the end of the airline. And although Norwegian is still around, it’s hanging on by a thread.
Thrown into the mix is one distinctive feature of JetBlue that sets it apart from other airlines. It doesn’t fly widebodies. While some might balk at the idea of traveling transatlantic on a little plane, particularly in this strange age of social distancing, Geraghty has a different take.
“I don’t think the widebody and narrowbody thing is affected by COVID-19. We haven’t seen anything in our data that suggests it will. We will have our Mint service in the front … and then as you think about the back of the aircraft, you’ll be with fewer customers that are on board.
“I think that [the narrowbody] might actually give customers a bit more comfort that there’s less people that are actually on board the aircraft at that time. I’m confident that the narrowbody experience will be almost like a private jet experience … it’s a much more private experience than you would get on a widebody.”
The airline has already hinted at a new and improved Mint product making an appearance on the transatlantic route. While we don’t yet know quite what this will entail, when it’s JetBlue, you know it’s going to be faBLUEous!
Excited for JetBlue touching down in London? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.