Enough to make you blush!

By | Category: Travel rumblings

This was the phrase used by the president of jetBlue to describe the premium-priced airline ticket prices between London and the US cities of New York and Boston.

jetBlue – coming to a London airport in 2021. Image – jetBlue

It is also part of the reasoning as to why jetBlue has decided to launch services linking the two US cities with London as from 2021.

Why am I letting you know this two years before it is likely to happen?

Because in the US, jetBlue is one of two airlines (the other being Southwest) that has altered the way that people in the US travel. Like Southwest, it is a low-cost airline. Like Southwest it has high customer satisfaction ratings but unlike Southwest it has decided to take on the transatlantic market as well as the main airlines that operate the service, American Airlines, BA, United, Delta and Virgin Atlantic. Between them, those five airlines carry over four million passengers each year to the New York area and have thirty flights per day with the vast majority being between Heathrow and JFK in New York.

There is another low cost airline on the routes into the USA’s north-eastern states, Norwegian and its success may have spurred jetBlue to look at the economics and pitfalls of operating to London. Norwegian has been looking for investment, partly from having expanded too quickly so why didn’t JetBlue just link up with Norwegian since Norwegian has slots, the ground staff and experience of the routes? Only management at jetBlue and Norwegian know the answer?

Tower Bridge in London. A familiar sight to American visitors

But the route can be a graveyard as well. It was only last week that Wow Air collapsed and that used to link North america with Europe via Iceland.

jetBlue said that it only considers routes which are “overpriced, underserved, or both.” There is no way London is underserved but it certainly is overpriced compared to some long distance routes. It is also one where many battles have been fought by airlines anxious to take some of the lucrative business away from the cosy five (it could be four as Delta owns a chunk of Virgin Atlantic. There is also a strong tie between American and BA so that both sell each other’s flight and the two have attempted to merge in the past.) During these battles, Freddie Laker’s Skytrain service was the subject of sustained pressure and Virgin Atlantic had its own battles with BA. BA had listed Norwegian as a takeover possibility so what will be the reaction of the traditional airlines to jetBlue muscling in on their patch? Will it also face competition from Ryanair which has suggested for a long time that it is interested in the routes from the UK to North America but has never done anything about it? Yet.

For the passenger, JetBlue’s entry could bring down prices for economy class passengers as well as business ones. Unlike Ryanair, jetBlue already has planes that are capable of flying the distance although it is converting some aircraft orders it has with airbus to versions capable of flying up to 4,000 miles.

image of the statue of liberty
as is the Statue of Liberty in New York to British visitors

The airline had profits of over $1 billion when last reported giving it deep pockets to face any actions other airlines might take; it has more legroom than many airlines offer and it provides free wifi and free live television at every seat. for business flyers it has another major attraction. The frequent flyer miles never expire.

Will Heathrow be the airport chosen for the route or will it be Gatwick, Stansted or even Luton? In jetBlue’s press release there is a suggestion it might select more than one London airport.

This is why 2021 could be an important year for the transatlantic passenger

Today jetBlue’s CEO will be in London and more information should become available

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