The CEO of low-cost US carrier JetBlue has said the airline will go ahead with plans to fly to London in 2021, promising to “disrupt” the market by offering “a much cheaper way of flying between the UK and the US”.
During a one-to-one interview with aviation analyst John Strickland at WTM Virtual, Hayes said: “London is a huge market. The largest market out of New York and Boston that we don’t fly to.”
He added: “Next summer there will be pent-up demand. People are desperate to go away, desperate to see family, but just want to wait a bit longer. All leisure travel will be largely recovered by the end of 2021. I think launching flights to London next summer, probably Q3, is the perfect time to introduce all of my friends in the UK and Europe to JetBlue.
“We’re looking forward to showing what we’ve got.”
“We thought a lot about this and we’re 100% confident. But if it doesn’t work, we will fly somewhere else.”
He added JetBlue will have interline partnerships to feed more traffic in through Europe.
He said JetBlue’s transatlantic service would be a ‘significant enhancement on what we already offer’. He wouldn’t talk about transatlantic prices, but said when the carrier launched JFK to Los Angeles flights in 2014, premium prices on in its Mint cabin started at US$599, compared to UK$2,000 being charged by rivals.
It’s understood JetBlue has applied for slots at Gatwick and Stansted and there have been reports it had recently applied for Heathrow slots.
But when Strickland suggested: “It seems to me if you wanted Heathrow you might be able to get all three,” Hayes said: “We will make an announcement when we are ready to put the flights on sale.
“We are very comfortable we have a path into more than one London airport and excited about what we want to do. Some of the other London airports have been underserved to the US.
The airline’s recent partnership with American Airlines, has given JetBlue access to more slots in New York.
“It’s an incredible opportunity for us and for American, but the real winners are the consumers.”