Is JetBlue about to launch its long-awaited London-Boston route?

Mar 28, 2022

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JetBlue has snatched yet more slots from under the noses of other transatlantic carriers, this time at London Gatwick Airport (LGW).

The airline landed on the U.K. travel scene last year with a bang, snapping up 310 of Heathrow’s most coveted and valuable runway slots to New York. In fact, TPG was on the first flight.

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This latest land grab of 116 air traffic slots — revealed in the company’s latest regulatory filings — is fueling speculation of a new low-cost route between London’s second busiest airport and Boston. According to the filings, the slots will begin around July 19.

The airline’s elusive London-Boston route was originally slated to launch in 2021, as reported by TPG way back in 2019. We all know what happened next. Several lockdowns — and airport reopenings, including Gatwick — later, the signs are looking good for JetBlue to make good on its long-delayed plans.

The news comes a week after JetBlue leased 14 Heathrow slots a week from Qatar Airways for the summer season, allowing for a daily departure to either John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) or Boston Logan International Airport (BOS).

“JetBlue continues to pursue multiple paths for slots at London airports,” an airline spokesperson told TTG Media Ltd. “Those discussions are continuing and we are excited to grow our transatlantic service in 2022.”

Related: Watch TPG fly JetBlue two ways

The move is part of a wider power play by the airline for a share of the U.K.’s air travel market and coincides with the launch of the carrier’s first-ever U.K.-focused ad campaign, under the tagline “Sky-high experiences. Down-to-earth fares.”

Related: Aer Lingus relaunches flights to NYC and Boston from Shannon for first time in two years

The new ad promotes a range of selling points including unlimited high-speed Wi-Fi, what it claims is the longest economy-class legroom and “build-your-own” meals on its transatlantic flights.

“We’re great, Britain,” trumpets one advertisement, as balloons spelling the sentence trundle past a plane at sunset on baggage handling trolleys.

“We have disrupted the domestic airline category here in the U.S. for over 22 years… and it was really important that we introduced ourselves to the U.K. in this way with our new campaign,” said Jayne O’Brien, head of marketing, product and loyalty.

Related: 8 tips and tricks for finding a great travel deal

Launched in 2000, JetBlue has become something of a tycoon in the British air-travel stakes, now holding a total of 426 London slots.

“No one believed that a start-up airline in 2000 could survive 20 months, much less 20 years,” chief executive Robin Hayes said in 2020 on the company’s 20th anniversary. “But JetBlue proved that taking care of people and bringing low fares to the market could not only be a viable business model but could also completely disrupt an industry. Others have tried to imitate JetBlue, but no one has ever successfully copied our 23,000 crew members and the incredible culture that they’ve built.”

Hayes continued: “JetBlue’s role in the industry is more important than ever. As the large airlines have consolidated and grown more powerful, and the ultra-low-cost carriers ushered in the no-frills flying, customers are turning to JetBlue for our high-quality service and affordable fares — definitely a unique combination in the industry today.”

Featured photo courtesy of JetBlue.

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