JetBlue Airways announced on Wednesday that it will operate intercontinental flights between New York and London late this summer, competing against bigger rivals.
The New York-based carrier has started selling tickets for its daily flights between JFK and Heathrow airports scheduled to begin on August 11. After its debut, the airline will add daily trips between JFK and London’s Gatwick Airport on September 29.
JetBlue had wanted to launch their flights earlier than mid-August but was delayed, partly by the process of verifying to regulators that it could safely operate long over-water flights. The carrier had hoped to capitalise on the peak summer travel, however, travel between the US and UK is still restricted with no sign of when these restrictions will be eased.
JetBlue President Joanna Geraghty said in an interview, “Given that the U.K. remains closed, we didn’t feel a ton of pressure to open earlier in the summer. This gives us a couple more months. We are pretty optimistic that by then things will be ready to go.”
The New York-London route was amongst the most profitable and competitive travel routes across the world before the onset of the pandemic and was popular especially with high-fare corporate travellers. The carrier is confident that it will be able to offer lower prices as compared to other airlines by using fuel-efficient and smaller, single-aisle Airbus jets with 117 economy seats and 24 lie-flat seats in it’s Mint premium service.
The airline is offering fares starting at $599 and £329 in economy, with Mint prices starting at $1,979 and £999.
JetBlue originally planned to offer more flights; unfortunately, it is not easy to get take-off and landing slots at Heathrow Airport (LHR). The daily JFK-LHR flights will arrive in London after 10 a.m., which is not the ideal time most business traveller’s desire.
“The times are not what we would have preferred,” Geraghty said, “but we also think they are times that are very workable for a large number of customers.”
There are talks about adding Boston-London flights for next year. Future plans also include expanding into continental Europe, where the airline would have greater competition from American Airlines, Delta Airlines and United Airlines. Geraghty mentioned that flights to Paris and Amsterdam are being looked into.