US carrier JetBlue has pushed back its plans to launch a transatlantic flight programme next year, which is due to include services to London, due to the coronavirus crisis.
Chief executive Robin Hayes confirmed to Bloomberg on Thursday (20 August) JetBlue’s London flights would start later in 2021 than previously planned, likely now to be in Q3 next year.
Hayes last year said JetBlue would enter the transatlantic market in 2021 and promised “multiple daily flights” from New York and Boston to London.
Chief operating officer Joanna Geraghty later revealed JetBlue was in talks with all four major London airports – Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted and Luton.
However, Hayes said on Thursday the launch would be "later in 2021 than we originally thought". "I still expect leisure demand between the US and Europe to recover at some point in 2021," he said.
"A lot of people have been putting off trips they want to make, so I actually think our timing is quite good. I think for some people, flying on a smaller aircraft with less people is going to be a benefit."
JetBlue is proposing to operate the route with Airbus’s new A321LR aircraft, its fleet of which it is still awaiting delivery early next year.
Hayes said that while he didn’t want to put an exact date on the launch of JetBlue’s transatlantic plans, his expectation was the service would launch "at some point in quarter three ".
"I think that would be a reasonable thing to expect to be able to do," said Hayes. "Never get ahead of your regulator and announce dates before you’ve got your regulator to approve what you want to do.
"We’re already partnering with the FAA [US Federal Aviation Administration] on that process – let’s get that in the can, and then we’re ready to fly."
Hays added JetBlue still had a number of options in mind for where it would fly to in the UK, stressing schedules would be released confirming this a couple of months in advance of its launch plans.