It should come as no surprise that JetBlue are launching service to London, the worst kept secret in the airline and travel industry, after several years of speculation.
Yes, I did call it that the announcement would be small, forced by the need to convert orders to the A321LR from the regular neo, along with regulatory filings which would have have given the game away. I thought originally it would be October 2020, but the announcement of 2021 came with no surprise to me at least, after all they have to get the aircraft to start with…!
Despite rumours flying around of Amsterdam, Paris, Dublin and even Manchester, it was clear even before the announcement that the initial spokes across the pond would be limited. Yes, it was just London – for the moment.
There also brings the question of airport. Some believe it has to Heathrow. I don’t take that stance, although it would be nice, and even JetBlue’s Joanna Geraghty confirmed that London will be seen as an O&D market for the airline. Heathrow is airport for transfer traffic, so unless some amazing slots become available, they will have other options.
Gatwick is just as good option for a traveller, with a fast rail link into London. Long haul is growing, in part thanks to the rivalry between British Airways and Norwegian, and coming soon the Virgin Atlantic/Delta partnership. It shouldn’t be seen as Heathrow’s waiting room or a substandard alternative, there are merits regardless. I also wouldn’t be surprised if Luton or Stansted were not in the frame either.
If you read the press release, Mint is mentioned eight times. It is very clear that they are targeting the price conscious business traveller, a market currently underserved to New York and Boston. Price conscious travellers are taken of with Norwegian in Economy and Premium – along with all the major airlines matching their a la carte offering, although there has been little change on the Business Class product.
Oil prices and the global slowdown brought down the original slew of airlines attempting to change premium travel across the Atlantic. British Silverjet took on American competition from Eos and Maxjet to win over customers with prices from £999 per person return. JetBlue’s play with Mint comes in a similar fashion. Challenge in the incumbent with something different.
So we wait for 2021, which is a long way off still and I’m sure there are more parts to the story – especially here in London…