Could JetBlue be ready to launch service to London?
That’s long been a source of speculation in the airline industry, and that seems only likely to increase after some of the most direct comments yet by the carrier’s executives.
"We’re actively looking at it now,” JetBlue CEO Robin Hayes said about the possibility of London service in an interview with The Independent.
“What JetBlue has always done since we started nearly 20 years ago is bring low fares with a better service, and we’d love to bring that to Europe,” Hayes added to London newspaper.
Hayes offered no specifics about when such service might begin, but he did offer some details as to what it might look like if it was added.
London flights would operate from JetBlue’s two busiest hubs – New York JFK and Boston – and would be on Airbus A321LR narrowbody jets. The “LR” stands for long range, meaning the aircraft could easily handle trans-Atlantic routes between the U.S. Northeast and much of western Europe.
JetBlue does not currently have any A321LRs in its fleet, but it is expected to begin receiving the first of more than 80 Airbus A321neos this year. JetBlue’s order with Airbus gives it the option convert some of those deliveries to the long-range variant.
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Hayes told the Independent that business-class fares on competitors' routes like Boston-London have risen so much that there’s a lot of room to come in and undercut those with JetBlue’s new “Mint” lie-flat seats.
He pointed to what’s happened on cross-country routes in the USA where JetBlue has rolled out those seats.
“Since we launched (Mint), transcontinental fares have approximately halved,” he said to the Independent.
The Independent noted the airline's staff has been alerted to an April 10 meeting in New York described as “a chat about JetBlue’s vision and strategy.” Hayes is scheduled to deliver a speech to the Aviation Club in London on April 11.
Despite the attempt to connect the dots, JetBlue said it’s not ready to reveal anything definitive about the launch of London flights.
“As we’ve said previously, we plan to announce our decision on the Long Range version of the A321 in 2019,” JetBlue spokesman Doug McGraw said in an email to USA TODAY’s Today in the Sky blog. “The transatlantic market – especially in the premium category – suffers from the same lack of competition and high fares that transcon routes in the U.S. saw before JetBlue introduced Mint. Potential routes to Europe could provide us an opportunity to grow our focus cities of Boston and New York as we consider the best use of our aircraft from a margin perspective in those cities.”
Stay tuned …
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Is JetBlue ready to launch flights to London?