JetBlue is adamant its soon-to-launch London-New York route will be a success for the low-cost airline, despite launching amid a fragile recovery from Covid where restrictions change weekly.
The American carrier debuts at London Heathrow on 11 August, shuttling passengers between the two global financial centres on daily flights.
One daily return flight from Heathrow has been promised for August, while Gatwick flights will be introduced in September.
The introduction of low-cost return tickets between London and New York could drive down transatlantic travel fares.
Robin Hayes, JetBlue’s chief executive, has vowed to deliver a service that will differ from any rival carrier’s attempts at low-budget transatlantic flights.
“It’s very different to Norwegian”, he told the Guardian, “we’re flying a plane we’ve always flown and a third of our capacity is already international, to 25 countries.”
JetBlue will cross the Atlantic in the Airbus A371LR, a single-aisle, narrow-body plane with fewer seats. The plane will include a ‘Mint’ cabin, JetBlue’s version of business class, with 24 seats priced at under $2000, according to Hayes.
“Fares will come down across the board”, Hayes promised.
Although launching a leisure airline at a time of greatly reduced demand for holidays wil be challenging, the pandemic did make it easier fro JetBlue to nab landing slots at Heathrow, formerly one of the world’s busiest airports.
With many flights being grounded, the coveted landing slots have become more accessible.
Aviation analyst John Strickland praised JetBlue’s chances of success, in spite of a potentially difficult start.
He told the Guardian: “Business travellers might think, I can afford two grand, but not the four or five thousand typically charged by carriers until now. The more private seats in Mint also might appeal these days when travellers may be less interested in luxury than space”.