New York-based budget carrier JetBlue has confirmed all four major London airports are potential partners as it prepares to launch transatlantic services.
Joanna Geraghty, JetBlue’s chief operating officer, said talks were in progress with Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted and Luton for the 2021 launch of flights from New York and Boston.
Speaking at the World Aviation Festival in London on Thursday (5 September), Geraghty said: “We think a number of London airports could work for us and we are working through those scenarios right now. We could see a scenario where we fly into multiple London airports.”
While Geraghty declined to comment further, any ambitions to operate out of Gatwick would appear slim after Delta earlier this year announced it would return to Gatwick next summer to serve Boston – another JetBlue hub – while joint venture partner Virgin Atlantic said it would launch a Gatwick-New York JFK flight.
Geraghty though told delegates competition was “good for the travelling public”, adding: “Delta created Song [its now defunct low-cost subsidiary] a number of years ago to try to put JetBlue out of business.”
Asked if easyJet could become a partner carrier in Europe, she replied: “You never know.”
JetBlue’s transatlantic flights will carry an upgraded version of its Mint business cabin, which Geraghty predicted would have a dramatic effect on competitors’ pricing.
“London is controlled by three joint ventures,” said Geraghty. “We think there is an opportunity to disrupt pricing, but also product.”
She said Mint’s introduction on US transcontinental routes had “driven down prices by 50% and really forced the competition to up their game”.
She did, however, acknowledge that JetBlue was still known primarily as a leisure carrier, 80% of its business coming from leisure sales.
“That will stay the same,” said Geraghty, while stressing Boston does predominantly cater for business passengers.