In a move made slightly ironic by Wow Air’s recent cease in operations, yesterday JetBlue announced their expansion into the transatlantic flight fight. While this announcement is pleasing, it’s not especially surprising, give that they’ve been hinting at such a move for years and in early March sent out a special “save the date” email to all employees for a “chat about JetBlue’s vision and strategy.” The news is confirmed now, though details are still pretty scarce.
- Service will begin in 2021.
- Initial flights will be Boston-London and New York City-London; no word yet on which London airport.
- They’ll be flying the Airbus A321LR, swapping out some of their orders of the A321 for the long range product.
- The airline will introduce a new Mint product, the premium domestic cabin that made waves when it first premiered. (SEE ALSO: JetBlue Mint Review- from FLL to SFO, our 1st Mint experience)
While JetBlue already flies to destinations in Mexico, Canada, Central America, and northern South America, this will be their first foray into a very crowded market, one that is held dominantly by alliance airlines. It’ll be interesting to see how the competition reacts to the announcement- and whether JetBlue can pump up their Mint product enough to compete with the likes of United Polaris and Delta One.
I’ll leave you guys with a quote from JetBlue’s CEO that sums up pretty succinctly the airline’s decision to jump across the pond: “Twenty years ago, our founders had a simple formula for choosing a new market – it had to be overpriced, underserved, or both. 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. The fares being charged today by airlines on these routes, specifically on the premium end, are enough to make you blush.”
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What will be interesting to watch are the following:
1) What will the Mint product/service both hard and soft entail for the over the pond flights?
2) I’m watching to see what slots JetBlue will obtain for flights into/out of Heathrow. Gatwick is easy peasy. As we have seen with DAL’s recent hurried-up and provoked announcement of new service from both BOS and JFK to Gatwick, how will Jet Blue respond?
Furthermore, will the other airlines flying the JFK/EWR/BOS to LON route respond with lower airfares in business? My hunch is that the very speculative presumption by those in the travel press and elsewhere that we will see a big airfare reduction in business class by the other airlines will be very minuscule at best.
With AA and BA’s virtual monopoly schedule and pricing power in the market – you may see limited reductions at very off-peak times and dates – but at prime time – it will be full rate.
In addition, the big boys have corporate and negotiated rates in place with their large corporate accounts who don’t pay the published business class fare.
Take a look at the EWR/JFK to LAX/SFO market. JetBlue is in the market with a great number of flights, but the other boys – with the exception of Alaska have been able to keep a substantial price premium in their respective first and business class cabins. Again, those big boys have tons of negotiated contracts in place – but the premium and yield generated on these lucrative transcon routes is very real – even with competition of JetBlue and it’s Mint service.
Frankly, Alaska needs to pull the plug on the LAX/SFO to JFK transcons – they are no longer competitive/relevant in the market.
Going back to JetBlue and the London service – they will perform but not enough for BA/AA DL/VS and UAL to significantly reduce their business and first class fares on these very important NYC/BOS to LGW/LHR routes.
Lastly, JetBlue will need to implement a working Wi-Fi offering for over-the pond flights.
This will evolve – and let the speculation continue. Roll the dice or play bingo?