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JetBlue's Mint business class product (photo: JetBlue)

JetBlue enters transatlantic battle

The JFK-based airline will be starting slowly, and later than expected, but it could disrupt the market in the premium segment.

As has long been anticipated, JetBlue has announced flights to Europe, with services between both Boston and New York set to start in 2021, which is later than many aviation analysts expected.

The airline says it will fly to London but has not yet decided which airports there it will serve.

Lawyers have been active on behalf of the airline in recent months, objecting whenever antitrust immunity by its competitors-to-be in the US and Europe has been sought, Skift reports.

A New York JFK-based low-cost carrier founded by the widely respected and feared entrepreneur David Neeleman, JetBlue wants regulatory agencies to make it easier for new entrants to fly transatlantic routes.

“Twenty years ago, our founders had a simple formula for choosing a new market, it had to be overpriced, underserved, or both,” the carrier’s president Joanna Geraghty said on the announcement.

“London is the largest metro area JetBlue doesn’t yet serve from both Boston and New York and we could not be more thrilled to be changing that in the years ahead.”

She added: “The fares being charged today by airlines on these routes, specifically on the premium end, are enough to make you blush.”

Premium disruptor
JetBlue could be a disruptor in the transatlantic market, among premium as much as low-paying passengers. Its lower-priced business class Mint has already shaken up transcontinental traffic.

The full-service airlines Delta, American, United, Air France-KLM, British Airways and Lufthansa will all be feeling vulnerable with the arrival of JetBlue, especially when it comes to price-sensitive business travellers.

But a major issue for JetBlue will be gaining brand recognition in Europe among the big players and their joint-venture and alliance partners, which will fight to minimise its presence at congested European airports.

However, the airline says it will expand slowly into the market and not overreach itself too quickly, like Norwegian has done, or the now-disappeared WOW air and Primera Air.

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