JetBlue A321. | Photo: Airways Magazine File

Story and Photos by: Eric Dunetz

NEW YORK– JetBlue has been mulling service across the Atlantic for a few years now and Wednesday the worst kept secret in commercial aviation was finally made.

Speaking at an “all-hands” meeting at the JetBlue Hanger and broadcast throughout the JetBlue Network Joanna Geraghty President & Chief Operating Officer confirmed that indeed the airline will be making the leap across the pond in 2021.  

We were on hand to watch over 1,300 JetBlue employees who were present and cheering as Geraghty made the announcement.

“Twenty years ago, our founders had a simple formula for choosing a new market – it had to be overpriced, undeserved, or both,” said Joanna Geraghty, president and chief operating officer, JetBlue.

“London is the largest metro area JetBlue doesn’t yet serve from both Boston and New York, and we could not be more thrilled to be changing that in the years ahead.” JetBlue believes most traffic will be O&D from New York JFK and Boston, both airports where JetBlue is a leader but is being heavily competed against by Delta.

“The fares being charged today by airlines on these routes, specifically on the premium end, is enough to make you blush.”

Jetblue is poised to take on the prized New York/Boston-London market by offering its premium Mint class service aboard an A321LR aircraft. 

JetBlue’s European debut would pit the low-cost carrier against large international airlines like Delta, American, United and their European partners like British Airways and Virgin Atlantic who dominate trans-Atlantic air travel. Don’t expect these airlines to take this disruption lying down, with fare wars likely to erupt with the intention of suffocating the upstart JetBlue’s entry into the market.

The New York based carrier views the expansion to Europe as an opportunity to undercut rivals with its cheaper business class service and upgraded Core service.

JetBlue’s London service will rely not only on the fuel-efficient Airbus A321LR jets but a Mint premium business class seat.   

JetBlue Mint Version 2.0 will reportedly be the launch customer of the Thompson Aero’s Vantage Solo Suite with a fully-flat bed, direct aisle access and a sliding privacy door for every passenger.

This is the next generation of the original Vantage seat which is on the A321.

“It’s great news that JetBlue is expanding into London and we will be delighted to welcome leisure and business visitors from Boston and New York with these new routes,” said LauraCitron, CEO, London & Partners.

“North America is already London’s largest overseas market but is growing significantly year on year, so extra connectivity and capacity to allow even more people to discover our city is very exciting news.”

“We know that Americans visit London for its exciting history and creativity, from Shakespeare to the birth of punk and the catwalks of today. This creative energy and cultural vibrancy can be felt in every aspect of London life andwe look forward to sharing it with more global visitors.”

One thing that was not announced was the airport that JetBlue will be flying to in London.  

London-Heathrow is the one airport every airlines wants to serve. Slots for Heathrow are traded on the open market and a single Heathrow slot can go for ten of millions of dollars. JetBlue has been contesting Virgin’s pursuit of FlyBe as they believe it unfairly allows the 49% Delta owned carrier an unfair advantage in slots that can be used for long-haul. Currently the American/British Airways OneWorld Joint-Venture controls 48% market share between the U.S. and London. Delta/Virgin are a distant number two.

London Gatwick is another choice but JetBlue will face stiff competition as Norwegian and BA already fly there from JFK and Boston with Delta re-entering the market after an eight year absence.

And could suburban London Stansted or Luton be in the cards if all else fails? Currently there are no routes between JFK/BOS to STN. The route was once served by EOS out of JFK.

In addition to London Service  it was hinted at JetBlue could expand further into Europe from both New York and Boston.  

The range of the A321LR can reach such cities as Amsterdam and Paris.

And not to be lost in all the London excitement it was also announced that JetBlue will begin service to Georgetown, Guyana. And that Boston will be the initial base for the new 140 passenger Airbus 220-300, which the airline has ordered 60 of which to replace its fleet of E190s.