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JetBlue continues to plan its first and highly anticipated transatlantic service to Europe with London flights from both Boston (BOS) and New York (JFK) from 2021. But even five months after originally announcing its intentions to fly to London, significant details remain missing.
Giving a keynote interview at this week’s World Aviation Festival in London, JetBlue President and Chief Operating Officer Joanna Geraghty was excited but remained tight-lipped about one of the most anticipated announcements in the company’s history: To which of London’s airports will JetBlue operate.
“We are currently still considering four airport options: Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted and Luton”, Geraghty told a packed audience. Despite being pressed on more details, she only revealed that all four were still in contention, and that the carrier may even operate to more than one.
While Heathrow (LHR) may be the most attractive for lucrative business travelers, it is also likely to be the most difficult to get access to, given the airport is slot constrained and when slots do become available they are so desirable that they can sell for tens of millions of dollars. London Gatwick (LGW) may be a more logical option, given the higher likelihood of reasonably priced landing and takeoff slots.
Low-cost transatlantic competitor Norwegian has built a large base at LGW, as it attracts price-conscious travelers. London Stansted (STN) and London Luton (LTN) have more available slots, though their distances to and from central London, poor reputations and basic terminal facilities have kept most full-service and legacy airlines away.
One key factor in JetBlue’s London airport choice may be with which European airlines it chooses to partner with for offering connections beyond London. Geraghty was seated next to low-cost giant EasyJet’s CEO Johan Lundgren for her interview and was pressed as to whether EasyJet would be a logical choice of partner. She would only reveal that JetBlue was considering several European airline partners (including EasyJet).
EasyJet operates from several London airports to a very wide route network across Europe, but its largest operations by far are at London Gatwick. If JetBlue does happen to choose Heathrow, it may have to partner with a full-service airline, as almost no short-haul low-cost operators fly to Heathrow.
Geraghty also reiterated that London passengers can expect an improved version of its well-regarded Mint business-class product. She said she believed the market was still ripe for disruption, especially in the affordable business-class space, despite her airline’s entrance still being several years away.
Featured image by Airbus
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