JetBlue has announced their plans to fly from New York JFK and Boston to London, with service starting in 2021. These are lucrative routes for the entrenched carriers currently operating flights between these cities, and this new competition from JetBlue will be fierce. JetBlue is up against the strong Joint-Ventures of One World’s American-British Airways, SkyTeam’s Delta-Virgin Atlantic, and to a lesser extent Star Alliance’s United Airlines, which operates flights out of Newark airport and does not code-share flights to London that are operated by European-based carriers.
JetBlue has previously taken on established carriers in competitive routes and has been successful. The introduction of their lie-flat business class product, Mint, shook up the JFK transcon market dominated by American and Delta. The combination of low fares with a comfortable lie-flat business class seat (especially the highly sought after single seat in rows 2 and 4) lead to many American, Delta, and United loyalists jumping ship to fly JetBlue.
JetBlue started their domestic transcon service with flights between Long Beach and JFK, before gaining slots at LAX. Obtaining slots at London Heathrow could prove to be very difficult for JetBlue, and they may need to settle on London’s alternative airports Gatwick or Stansted before getting into Heathrow.
It will be interesting to see if JetBlue seeks to join one of the established airline alliances, or if perhaps they will create their own alliance with other European low-cost carriers such as Ryan Air, which has many flights operating from London Stansted and competes with British Airways in the short-haul market. Star Alliance has a weak presence at JFK compared to One World and SkyTeam. Could an agreement with United Airlines benefit from JetBlue’s expansion to London?
JetBlue’s code-share agreements with Emirates Airlines could also be strengthened and expanded with their entry into London. The US Government awarded the Federal contract for tax-payer funded flights between Washington Dulles and Dubai to JetBlue. Wait-JetBlue doesn’t fly to Dubai! Well, yes they do, as a code-shared flight operated by Emirates Airlines. Emirates, and the other Gulf State airlines, compete with the Big 3 alliances on routes between the USA and Europe and Africa. Could expanded code-share flights between JetBlue and Emirates give each a better competitive edge in the European flight market?