The boss of Jet2.com and Jet2holidays has insisted the company has no plans to launch scheduled transatlantic services, despite similar moves made by rival airlines.
Norwegian started flying to various destinations earlier this year and Ryanair has said it will start routes to the US within a decade.
Jet2.com began offering a limited-season service to New York in 2012, adding more North American destinations in 2013. This winter it will fly 16 times to New York in the run-up to Christmas.
But Steve Heapy, chief executive of the airline and package holiday divisions, told TTG there were “no plans” to extend the service: “The flights we’ve done to New York have been discovery trips. We’re not planning to start a scheduled service to the US. We will carry on with our discovery trips, but that’s it.
“We have no plans whatsoever to start a transatlantic scheduled service,” he added.
Instead he said Jet2.com, which is part of the Aim-listed Dart Group, is more interested in steady organic growth in its northern heartlands, where it has eight bases at airports including Leeds Bradford, East Midlands, Glasgow and Manchester.
"Within a 60-minute drive of our catchment areas there live 26 million people so there’s plenty to go for in the north"
“Within a 60-minute drive of our catchment areas there live 26 million people so there’s plenty to go [for] in the north of England. We think there’s enough people there to take on holiday and on flights, so the north of England is where we are for the moment,” he said.
In June, the group announced a rise in operating profit, but also warned that a weak market would affect figures for this financial year.
The same problems have been encountered by other operators, with talk of overcapacity running though the industry. However, this threat subsided as the summer went on - enough for the group chairman and chief executive, Philip Meeson, to talk of “uplift” in the market in September.
Heapy agreed: “From last summer really, from July summer 2013… the market was a little bit soft and it’s been a very tough environment over the past 12 months.
“But the tail end of summer is looking slightly more encouraging and winter 2014 is pretty much where we expect to be, and summer 2015 within expectations.
“Hopefully we’ve been through the worst and the market will recover.”
Like other senior industry figures, Heapy, who worked at Libra Holidays and MyTravel before joining the Dart Group in 2009, said he also believed there was truth in talk of the World Cup and weather affecting sales.
The biggest problem though, he said, was still the economy. Although the south-east and London are starting to see signs of a recovery, Heapy insisted some areas of the north were yet to feel the benefit.
“We’ve got commentators based primarily in the south saying the economy is recovering but people in the north of England I don’t think are really feeling it at the moment - there are still tough times up here,” he added.