• George Nicon Andritsakis

Never Mind The Bollocks, Here's jetBlue



jetBlue Airways Airbus A321 photo credit Joe Pries


Rumours and jetBlue Airways pretty much go hand in hand in the airline world. Avgeeks, hipsters, the New York/Florida hoi-polloi, and various other Blue Juice fans around the planet greedily lap up any and every little hint of a rumour, whether there's an ounce of truth to it or completely far-fetched and whimsical.


The latest rumour coming out of the quasi-LCC's offices in Long Island City, NY is the imminent start of flights from New York/JFK and Boston to London's Heathrow Airport and to Dublin, Ireland. This rumour has some credibility though. In fact, it's way past the rumour stage by the time of this writing. Slot appraisal and sale in London is imminent, the question is, when, from who, and for how much?



The Airbus A321LR can easily operate all 4 routes

The choice of aircraft is a simple one. jetBlue has 85 Airbus A321NEO's on order, with the option to convert any or all of these into the A321LR, the longer range variant that makes most destinations in Western Europe within easy reach of New York/JFK and Boston. These planes will no doubt have the soon to be unveiled Mint 2.0 Business Class with 16 of these lie flat seats. I haven't been on jetBlue's A321, in either of their configurations, but I have flown on their original A320's, and well, I like to place their position as somewhere between the regular network carriers like American and Delta on the higher end, and the LCC's like Southwest and Frontier on the other end. Not quite the full service carrier with the worldwide alliances and code-shares (although they do have several code-shares with certain carriers), Airport Clubhouses, or the rest that goes along with those carriers, nor are the completely stand-alone, no code-sharing, no-interlining, LCC/ULCC such as Southwest, Frontier, and Spirit Airlines.


Flying narrow-bodied aircraft across the Atlantic is nothing new, neither are lower fares brought about by upstart airlines expanding into new territory. Now, jetBlue has been around for 19 years, and they've found their niche. They have grown into a major player in New York/JFK; Long Beach, CA; Orlando and Ft. Lauderdale, FL; Boston, and San Juan, Puerto Rico. They've entered and exited a good dozen or so cities in their time, due to one reason or another. They've done pretty much all they can do domestically, at a profit. They've expanded in the Caribbean, Central, and South America, so it only makes sense that they try their hand at Europe.


Does Heathrow have room for another entrant?

The current airlines flying between New York/JFK and London/Heathrow are American Airlines, British Airways, Delta Air Lines, and Virgin Atlantic. United serves Heathrow from Newark, as it had ceased JFK operations in 2015, a mistake it has come to regret. There are 26 flights a day between JFK and Heathrow ALONE, and averages about 30 million passengers a year. This is NOT including flights to other New York or London area Airports. There is clearly room for jetBlue to come in, if they do it right. Boston is also another city that has a lot of service to London, but there is also room there for another U.S. Flag Carrier to come in.



Dublin could use another airline from the USA.

Dublin is another interesting yet under-served destination from both New York and Boston. Currently Aer Lingus and Delta serve Dublin from both New York/JFK and Boston. This is where jetBlue could poach the most from both airlines. They could potentially come in and set themselves up as the fare leader, and drive yields ridiculously low for an extended period of time. Delta would have the most to lose on this route as neither city is a hub, although Boston is sort of a smaller, not-quite focus city with quite a bit of point-to-point flying from Logan Airport.


What sets jetBlue apart from the other airlines flying these routes? Not much, aside from price and the type of service they will offer on board. What would make them a true contender with staying power, and not another PeoplExpress, is their fair sized connecting hub at JFK and slightly smaller operation at Boston. If they time the Heathrow and Dublin flights correctly, they can feed those flights from passengers coming in from all over their system.



jetBlue's Terminal 5 at New York/JFK Photo Credit Port Authority of New York & New Jersey

As we see with Southwest's entry in the Hawaiian market earlier this month, the airlines' yield per seat will drop temporarily, while jetBlue introduces new, introductory, lower fares, the other carriers will match with select fare classes as well, possibly in both Economy and Business Class. Will jetBlue be able to keep the fares low, or will they increase them systematically and become just another player hopping the pond? It's FAR too early to tell, and jetBlue themselves won't make an announcement on the A321LR, let alone any Trans-Atlantic services until at the very least April 10 this year. Stick around, it looks like the Atlantic might just heat up a little.


The opinion of the Travel Genius is this, I personally don't fly jetBlue, and my preferred airline into London is American Airlines (usually from Los Angeles, a former TWA route), but if I had no other choice, I certainly wouldn't mind. I'm not a fan of a lot of their onboard services, but it works for a lot of people, and that's all that matters. I won't hesitate booking those flights if they are what work for my clientele and their pocketbooks and schedules. You can take it to the bank, even if I'm not a fan of a certain airline, I will keep it 100 at all times and give my clientele their options.


#jetblue #jetblueairways #newroutes #airbus #airbusA321lr #london #dublin #newyorkcity #boston #gttg100



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