The low-cost airline, a pioneer in in-flight perks including free live TV, trendy snacks and speedy Wi-Fi, plans to begin flights from Boston and New York JFK in 2021. The airline is adding a long-range version of the Airbus A321 to its fleet to serve the routes.
“Twenty years ago, our founders had a simple formula for choosing a new market – it had to be overpriced, underserved, or both,” JetBlue President and Chief Operating Officer Joanna Geraghty said in a statement. “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.''
The 19-year-old carrier, which wins rave reviews from travelers, has been talking about London service for several years and all but confirmed it in March when CEO Robin Hayes told a London newspaper they were actively working on it.
The company announced the new flights in an employee ceremony in New York Wednesday and teased the upcoming service earlier Wednesday on Twitter using British spellings.
The airline is a late entrant to transatlantic service. American, Delta, United, several foreign carriers and low-cost carriers including Norwegian Air are among the airlines offering flights between the East Coast and London. The airline says many carriers charge "obscene'' fares on the routes.
Delta Air Lines President Glen Hauenstein said on the airline's earnings conference call Wednesday that Delta has seen competition come and go in the transatlantic market.
"This is not something new,'' he said.
He said the airline "feels very secure'' about its position in the market.
5 things to know about JetBlue Airways' new flights to London
1. You won't be able to fly JetBlue to Europe this summer, or next. JetBlue's flights to London won't begin until 2021. The airline needs to get FAA certification for long overwater flights, the same process Southwest Airlines had to complete before launching Hawaii service.
2. It's unclear which London airport(s) JetBlue will serve. The city's major airports are Heathrow and Gatwick. The airline said it is evaluating which airports it will serve. Its CEO plans to address "competition concerns and airport access challenges'' in a speech in London Thursday.
3. The airline is a long way from releasing information on flight schedules and introductory fares. But the airline calls competitors' transatlantic fares sky high and "obscene,'' so expect lower fares – at least to start.
4. Get ready to hear a lot about Mint. That's not a snack, it's JetBlue's oft-praised business class service, currently offered on cross-country flights. JetBlue promises a "reimagined'' Mint section on the London flights, with more lie-flat seats.
5. These are not JetBlue's first international routes. The airline launched Caribbean flights a few years after it was founded and now serves nearly two dozen countries in the Caribbean and Latin America.