The carrier has converted 13 existing orders for narrow body long range Airbus A321LRs to the XLR version, which can fly 15% further.
JetBlue will launch flights from New York and Boston to unspecified London airports in 2021 using a fleet of new A321LRs jets with a range of 4,600 miles, roughly just more than eight hours’ flying. The XLR version has more fuel tanks and will permit flights of about 10 hours.
Robin Hayes, JetBlue chief executive, said: “The incredible extended range of the A321XLR allows us to evaluate even more overseas destinations as we think about JetBlue’s expansion into European markets plagued by high premium fares and subpar service.”
The XLRs will be delivered from 2023, allowing JetBlue to bed in its transatlantic strategy with the London flights in advance of this date.
JetBlue’s transatlantic fleet will be fitted with a revamped version of its Mint business class, which includes flat beds and cabins with sliding doors.
JetBlue gave no hints as to which destinations it was targeting with the aircraft order, but said it would “explore European cities that suffer from high fares or mediocre service and those which are effectively controlled by legacy carriers and their massive joint ventures”.
Unlike other new entrants to the transatlantic market, JetBlue will have extensive feeder traffic from its domestic network at both JFK and Boston. It said it intended to “lower fares while raising the bar on what travellers can expect from a low-cost carrier when flying across the Atlantic”.
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