JetBlue launches its first-ever transatlantic route from JFK to London

JetBlue announced Tuesday that it will be launching its first-ever transatlantic route to London from two US airports despite COVID-19 restrictions still in place for international travel. 

According to a press release from the airline, the 7-hour flights will take off from New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport and the Boston Logan International Airport this summer.  

JetBlue will also introduce the Airbus A321 Long Range single-aisle aircraft, which only has 114 seats and 24 Mint suites, for the transatlantic service.

The airline, which is known for its low prices, has not released estimated costs for the new transatlantic flights. It’s also unclear which London airport the airline will fly in to. 

It’s unclear why exactly JetBlue is choosing to launch now, and a request for comment was not immediately returned.  

The announcement comes while the United Kingdom still has restrictions in place on international travel. 

Currently, travelers are only allowed to leave the UK from England if they have a reasonable excuse such as work, medical visits, etc. The rule applies to holders of UK and non-UK passports.

For now, it is illegal to travel abroad without a reasonable excuse and traveling abroad for the holidays is not permitted.

It’s unclear when international restrictions will be lifted in the UK, but air travel in the US appears to be recovering from pandemic lows. 

More than 1 million travelers have gone through US airports for each of the last 20 days, although March traffic remains down nearly half from the same month in 2019.

The travel numbers are rising heading into the crucial summer vacation season. Last summer was a catastrophe for the airlines, making them eager to boost revenue as quickly as possible. 

  • graphical user interface: It's also unclear which London airport the airline will fly into. This image shows one of the suites in the aircraft that will be used for the transatlantic flights

  • a bunch of different types of food: When it comes to the food offering, the airline has partnered with restaurant chain Dig to bring its 'signature build-your-own dining concept to tray tables at 35,000 feet'

  • a large passenger jet flying through a blue sky: On average, transatlantic fares are usually well over $3,000 roundtrip, and in some cases that cost can creep up to $4,000 depending on when travelers book

JetBlue forecast a slowing pace in its first-quarter revenue drop, projecting a decline of between 61 per cent and 64 per cent, compared with the same period in 2019. 

It had previously forecast a 65 per cent to 70 per cent fall in revenue. 

Tuesday’s announcement also comes less than a month after JetBlue said it’s considering whether to stay in New York, where it was founded two decades ago, or move its headquarters to Florida.

A spokeswoman for the airline said in March that a decision is expected later this year. She said more than 1,300 employees work at the headquarters in Long Island City, across the East River from Manhattan.

The airline said in a statement that its current lease expires in July 2023 and it is reviewing its options ‘and considering how our space requirements may evolve in a hybrid work environment post-pandemic’.

JetBlue said it is exploring a number of options, including staying in its current headquarters, moving elsewhere in New York City, or shifting some New York-based jobs to existing JetBlue facilities in Florida. The airline has a training center in Orlando and a travel-products subsidiary in Fort Lauderdale.

The airline said that no matter what it decides about the headquarters, it still plans to expand at all three New York City-area major airports.

Last month, major US airlines dropped plans to lay off thousands of workers after Congress approved President Joe Biden’s $1.9trillion economic relief package.

The legislation included $14billion in payroll support for flight attendants, pilots and other staff.

The hope is that the funding – Congress’ third round of help to carriers since the coronavirus devastated the US travel industry – will be the last needed before they can return to profitability.

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