JetBlue Can Fly to London, but to What Airport?
JetBlue Airways has made the grade for takeoff to the UK this summer with the official green light for its planned service to London.
The UK Civil Aviation Authority granted the New York-based carrier a scheduled foreign carrier permit last week, a key regulatory hurdle ahead of starting flights. JetBlue plans to begin flights to London from both Boston and New York by September.
“We are delighted to have received regulatory approval from the Civil Aviation Authority,” said JetBlue spokesperson Philip Stewart. “This brings us one step closer to launching our new JetBlue transatlantic service.”
Sign off from UK authorities marks JetBlue’s turn onto the home stretch for its long-planned London service. First unveiled in 2019, the airline had to check numerous boxes to get there, from acquiring new planes — the Airbus A321LR — to getting regulatory sign off and securing takeoff and landing rights at one of London’s busy airports. Only the final one remains a question mark five months out from JetBlue’s target launch.
London airports slot coordinator Airport Coordination Limited (ACL) has allocated JetBlue enough takeoff and landing rights at London Heathrow, according to the latest data for the Summer 2021 season that ends in October. ACL shows the carrier beginning a daily flight to Heathrow the week of August 2, and expanding to two daily flights on during the week of September 13. The data do not show the timing of the slots.
The ACL data do not equal a schedule and airlines are able to swap, request or decline any slots. For example in 2020, JetBlue was allocated slots at London’s Gatwick and Stansted airports that it declined.
In addition, JetBlue CEO Robin Hayes has said that the target third quarter launch is subject to an easing of Covid-19 travel restrictions between the U.S. and UK. Something that has yet to occur.
The A321LR jets that JetBlue will fly to London are outfitted with just 138 seats — a light configuration for a transatlantic flight — including 24 lie-flat seats in its posh Mint premium cabin. The carrier is betting on its premium product to woo flyers away from the legacy airlines that dominate the U.S.-London market, including American Airlines, British Airways, Delta Air Lines and Virgin Atlantic Airways. From Boston, United Airlines also plans to enter the fray this summer.
“When we take our product, when we take our customer base already that is very keen for us to do this, and we take low fares — we think that’s a winning combination,” said Hayes on JetBlue’s London ambitions at a J.P. Morgan event in March. “We think that’s going to ramp up very quickly.”
- Within a week of Greece reopening to American travelers who can prove they are inoculated against Covid-19 or have a negative PCR test, Delta and United are piling in with new flights. United will add daily service between Washington Dulles and Athens on July 1, followed a day later by Delta with daily flights between Atlanta and Athens. Both routes complement the airlines’ existing flights to Greece from JFK for Delta and Newark for United.
- American and JetBlue unveiled a slew of new destinations and routes as part of their alliance in what could be seen as a show for investigators at Department of Justice looking into the partnership. American will return to New Delhi with service from New York JFK on October 31; the airline dropped the Indian capital from its map in 2012. The airline will also add new service between Boston and Cincinnati, St. Louis and Toronto; and New York LaGuardia and Houston Intercontinental, Oklahoma City and Omaha on November 2.
JetBlue will add Asheville, Kansas City, Milwaukee, Puerto Vallarta, San Antonio, San Pedro Sula and Vancouver to its map beginning from October through summer 2022. It will connect the cities to either Boston or JFK, or both. In addition, the airline plans new service between LaGuardia and Jacksonville, Sarasota and Savannah from October; LaGuardia to Nashville, New Orleans and Portland, Maine, flights will begin in 2022. JetBlue’s new JFK and LaGuardia flights are possible through slot swaps with American.
- It’s annyeonghaseyo for Delta with plans to launch new service between Portland, Ore. and Seoul Incheon this fall. Beginning Sept. 9, the route will connect Portland — once Delta’s gateway to Asia — the hub of its partner Korean Air. The new route comes as Delta’s long standing Portland-Tokyo route remains suspended; schedules show the flight to Haneda airport resuming October 30, according to Cirium data.
- Flydubai plans two new seasonal routes to Turkey this summer. The budget carrier will connect Dubai and Bodrum from June 4, and Trabzon from May 13. Both routes will end September 1.
- Ryanair is offering Brits more options to live their “Mamma Mia” dreams — and take advantage of a Covid-19 vaccination — in Greece this summer. The discounter will add new seasonal service between Liverpool and Kos, Manchester and Santorini, and Teeside and Corfu from July. Flights will operate through the summer season.
- Husavik dreaming? United will add Dubrovnik to its map plus new service to Reykjavik this summer. The carrier will connect Reykjavik and Chicago O’Hare — joining Delta upping capacity to Iceland — daily from July 1; and Dubrovnik and Newark thrice-weekly from July 8. Both routes, plus the aforementioned new service to Athens, Greece, will operate seasonally through early October.
Separately, United plans to fly 67 percent of its 2019 domestic schedule and 60 percent of its system schedule in June. The airline will welcome Joplin, Mo., and West Yellowstone, Mont., to its map that month. Other new routes that month include service between Anchorage and Fairbanks.
- U.S. regional Silver Airways continues extending its tentacles, err routes, across the south. Following the additions of Columbia, Charleston and Greenville/Spartanburg, S.C., and Savannah since 2020, the airline will connect Jacksonville and New Orleans twice daily from June 3.