JetBlue is hoping the reshaped aviation market will give its new A321LR services to London a lift as it Wednesday launched its first trans-Atlantic flight with economy fares starting at about $US200 one-way.
The historic Flight 7 from New York JFK to London Heathrow comes as competitor British Airways has reported a surge in trans-Atlantic bookings after a decision by the UK to ease travel restrictions.
JetBlue’s entry into the restricted Heathrow market came as slot availability was boosted by the pandemic and it also plans to fly to Gatwick from late September.
But competition is also ramping up as the more favorable conditions prompt US carriers such as American Airlines and United Airlines to boost services.
Mid-market JetBlue has made its name offering affordable, accessible service without cramming passengers into economy cabins and at the same time offering a competitive business class product called Mint.
The A321 sports 24 enclosed Mint suites reportedly selling for as little as $US1660 per round trip and 114 “core” economy seats.
The herringbone Mint product features proprietary fully-lie flat seats in private suites with a sliding door, custom seat cushions, a 17-inch HD screen, a phone ledge, in-seat power with wireless charging capabilities as well as laptop, shoe and handbag storage.
Two Mint Studios feature a bigger 22-inch entertainment screen as well as an additional side table and a seat for guests.
The product is the first to use Thompson’s Aero Seating Vantage SOLO seat designed specifically for narrow-body aircraft.
Passengers also get a sense of widebody space thanks to the A320LRs new Airspace by Airbus cabins with backlit ceiling panels, custom LED lighting, the biggest overhead bins on a single-aisle aircraft and new ergonomic sidewalls offering extra personal space at shoulder level.
JetBlue has taken advantage of A321’s wider cross-section to give the aircraft’s 114 economy passengers 18.4-inch wide seats with a full 32-inch seat pitch and contoured seat-backs for extra knee space.
The airline also offers four rows of “Even More Space” seating with five additional inches of legroom.
Passengers flying across the Atlantic will be able to take advantage of the airline’s free, high-speed Wi-Fi as well as enjoy a selection of live TV channels and an extensive library of seatback entertainment.
Seats feature 10.4-inch seatback screens, easy-to-reach in-seat power from AC and USB-C outlets and customers will be able to customize their inflight meals from the seatback screen.
Tonight’s the night! We’re taking off on our first flight from NYC to London—and you can take a mini-tour of our new Airbus A321LR right now. More at https://t.co/ynjwsfTDLD. pic.twitter.com/h6dBY9VSG6
— JetBlue (@JetBlue) August 11, 2021
JetBlue is not the only non-legacy carrier eyeing off routes between the US and Europe.
Start-up Norse Atlantic Airways, established in February, plans to fly low-cost trans-Atlantic routes using Boeing 787 Dreamliners.
It plans to take its first aircraft ahead of a potential maiden flight in December with all aircraft in place by the end of the first quarter of 2022.
Destinations will include New York, Florida, Paris, London and Oslo.
The company said in an August 10 update that it believed the demand for trans-Atlantic travel would be back by late Q1 or early Q2 2022 and that all 15 of its 787s would be operating between Europe and the US next summer.
It expects to have 1600 employees by then and has applied for both Norwegian and British air operators’ certificates.
Ticket sales will be launched three months before the first flight.
“We strongly believe there is a need for a new and innovative airline serving the low-cost intercontinental market with modern, more environmentally friendly and fuel-efficient aircraft as the world gradually reopens,’’ Norse chief executive Bjorn Tore Larsen said.
“Our plans are on track and operations will commence when travel restrictions are lifted and demand for trans-Atlantic travel is back.”
All-business class start-up La Compagnie announced in June it was starting flights between Paris Orly and Newark International Airport with tickets starting at $US1700 return.
It also announced it would resume similarly priced seasonal flights from Newark to Nice and Milan as well as a service to Tel Aviv with a stopover in Paris.
La Compagnie flies an A321neo fleet fitted with 76 fully flat seats and its fares include unlimited Wi-Fi service and what it touts as “a unique dining experience offering fresh menu items by renowned New York and Paris based chefs”.