JetBlue secures key regulatory approval needed for London routes

Apr 19, 2021

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Monday marks another step forward for JetBlue’s transatlantic ambitions.

The U.K. Civil Aviation Authority granted the New York-based carrier regulatory approval, the last major hurdle needed for JetBlue to begin serving London.

The foreign carrier permit granted on Monday allows JetBlue to operate transatlantic routes between London, New York and Boston.

JetBlue said in a statement that,

We are delighted to have received regulatory approval from the Civil Aviation Authority and thank them for granting us foreign carrier permits. This brings us one step closer to launching our new JetBlue transatlantic service between the U.S. and London later this year.

The need for JetBlue’s low fares and exceptional service – particularly on transatlantic routes dominated by a handful of mega-carriers charging high fares – will be more needed than ever as the global travel market recovers. Details on launch dates, schedules and fares will be announced soon.

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The milestone also marked the first time that a new operating certificate has been issued by U.K. authorities since the country’s exit from the European Union in January 2020. All non-U.K.-based air carriers with commercial flights to, from or within the United Kingdom are required to hold a foreign carrier permit before any flight is undertaken.

Now that JetBlue has secured formal permission to fly to the U.K., we’re just waiting for the carrier to announce its launch plans, including specific routes and schedules.

Monday’s news follows just weeks after JetBlue secured coveted slots to operate flights to London’s most popular Heathrow (LHR) airport — though the airline has not yet confirmed which London airport it intends to serve.

JetBlue’s new Mint biz coming to its London routes (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

For LHR, the New York-based airline was allocated 270 slots for flights to and from the popular London airport. On March 26, Airport Coordination Limited (SCL), the slot coordinator for the airport, released an updated report for the summer 2021 schedule, which includes the aforementioned slots given to JetBlue that could pave the way for its inaugural transatlantic service.

Of those, 180 slots were allocated for flight to New York-JFK and the remaining 90 are earmarked for service to Boston (BOS). JetBlue would fly to Terminal 2 at LHR, per the slot filings.

It remains to be seen if these slots are permanent, or just allocated temporarily during the demand downturn and associated usage waivers due to the pandemic. Airlines that fly to LHR have been granted relief from the “use-it-or-lose-it” clause that typically requires a slot to be used 80% of the time, or else it’s forfeited.

Now that the carrier has official permission to fly to London as well as an “in” at Heathrow — which is thought to be JetBlue’s leading choice — the airline appears to be making good on its promise to disrupt the existing transatlantic market.

Related: The new gold standard: JetBlue’s spiffy Mint Studio, with the largest bed in biz

In recent weeks, the carrier has already detailed its transatlantic onboard offering. JetBlue will deploy a brand-new Airbus A321LR on its transatlantic routes. TPG recently got a first-look tour of the new Mint business-class cabin that’ll debut on the carrier’s latest jet.

JetBlue will also serve tapas-style meals in coach curated by popular New York-based restaurant group Dig. Flyers will be able to pick from five menu options using a seat-back “build-your-own-meal” system.

Featured photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy

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