A transatlantic fares war may get under way as Virgin Atlantic and Delta try to head off an expected launch of flights by New York’s JetBlue.
Virgin and Delta have pledged to launch flights from Gatwick to Boston and New York JFK “from summer 2020”, revealing this days before New York-based JetBlue was due to hold a massive staff event, rumoured to be a launch of London services.
Invitations for the event, at 3pm New York time on Wednesday (April 10), were printed with logos of London Underground seats.
JetBlue chief executive Robin Hayes is also due to address an Aviation Club meeting in London on Thursday (April 11), further fuelling speculation.
JetBlue has shaken up US transcontinental travel, offering lie-flat beds on single-aisle aircraft.
Hayes has said he could do the same on transatlantic services, branding current business class rates “obscene”. JetBlue did not comment ahead of the event.
Virgin and Delta plan to offer “up to 18 daily flights” from the UK to New York JFK and Boston from summer 2020 – meaning four or five additional departures a day. It also sees Delta – which owns 49% of Virgin – return to Gatwick eight years after it moved London operations to Heathrow.
OAG director John Grant said: “It’s slightly ironic given the demise of WOW Air probably created a better balance in an over-supplied market. It increases pressure on Norwegian.
“For JetBlue, it may make them look again, but the fleet of transcontinental aircraft with the Mint product could be ideal to launch against the established legacy carriers.”
Meanwhile, Virgin has unveiled redesigned cabins for its new fleet of Airbus A350s, including a new business class seat and lounge area.