JetBlue Boosts Transatlantic Offer, Remains Cautious On Capacity Plans
DOHA, Qatar—JetBlue Airways will increase its presence in the New York-London market later in 2022 and plans to make Paris its first mainland European destination in 2023, CEO Robin Hayes has confirmed.
During the upcoming northern winter season, the airline has secured permanent slots at London Heathrow (LHR) and plans to add a second daily flight to London Gatwick (LGW) from New York John F Kennedy (JFK).
JetBlue’s entrance to the transatlantic market began in August 2021 with flights from JFK to Heathrow using slots that had become temporarily available as incumbent airlines reduced their schedules in response to pandemic travel restrictions. Service to Gatwick began the following month.
After winning approval to continue using the temporary Heathrow slots during the summer 2022 season, JetBlue has now received permanent slots for flights starting Oct. 29, saying the move guarantees its “long-term future at the iconic global hub.”
In addition, the airline plans to add a second daily flight between JFK and Gatwick starting Oct. 29, growing the number of frequencies between New York and London to three per day.
The expansion comes as the carrier prepares to begin serving London from Boston Logan (BOS). Flights to Gatwick were originally slated to begin on July 19; flights to Heathrow had been set for Aug. 22. However, the launch has been pushed back to Aug. 4 and Sept. 20, respectively, because of Airbus aircraft delivery delays.
Speaking from the sidelines of the IATA AGM in Doha, Hayes said Paris will likely be the carrier’s first mainland destination in Europe, with flights due to start in 2023. Further European routes are expected to follow, using the A321LR and A321XLR aircraft JetBlue has on order.
However, Hayes added that despite the expected transatlantic growth to London in 2022, the airline intends to maintain a conservative approach to capacity planning as part of efforts to increase the reliability of its operations amid continuing labor shortages.
“There’s still a lot of demand out there and we’re seeing business travel recover way ahead of last year so that’ll carry us into 2023,” he said. “But we’ve still got capacity constraints in the system where airlines can’t add back the capacity they would like.”
Hayes said his airline is going to continue to plan very conservatively. “JetBlue could add another 10 or 15% capacity back as we have the aeroplanes to do it, but the system is too fragile,” the CEO said. “So, we’ve got to plan it more conservatively.”
JetBlue announced in late April that it plans to cut its planned schedule for the summer and rest of the year, targeting capacity growth of zero-to-five percent for full-year 2022 compared to 2019 levels. This represents a reduction from previous guidance of 11-15% growth. JetBlue’s schedule reduction followed operational issues caused by bad weather and air traffic control delays in Florida, compounded by staff shortages.
Karen Walker also contributed to this story.