JetBlue plans to fly its A321LR aircraft to London with a brand new Mint Business Class product this summer. The airline has always wanted to fly to London Heathrow, but it is not easy to secure slots there. Has the airline finally found a way to do this?
The JetBlue website referred to London Heathrow
Eagle eyes @IshrionA noted that JetBlue’s website this morning referred to London Heathrow in a number of ways that it had not before. For example, if you searched for a flight on the JetBlue website, it showed London Heathrow as a JetBlue airport rather than a partner airline airport (while London Gatwick was shown as a partner airline airport).
There were similar references across the JetBlue website. For example, JetBlue’s Route Map page also referred to flights to London Heathrow operated by JetBlue.
In the meantime, the airline immediately removed these references from their website.
To be very clear, flights to London Heathrow with JetBlue will no longer be offered, at least from now on. However, to me, these references suggest that:
- JetBlue intends to service London Heathrow and no other London airport
- Flights may go on sale shortly
JetBlue intends to fly to London this summer
Generally, when something like this happens, it is because someone accidentally loaded something prematurely, rather than being completely wrong and having no basis in reality. This is especially true when you consider how many places these references have been updated.
In late 2020, it was announced on the JetBlue website that the airline was serving Miami when it was not. When people came across the testimonials, they were quickly removed from the website. Sure enough, a few days later, JetBlue announced it was flying to Miami.
JetBlue is struggling with London slots
JetBlue has addressed the same problem so many airlines have with London service. The airline is looking to enter the market, but Heathrow Airport is banned from most airlines – the airport is heavily slot controlled due to congestion, and slots have historically sold for tens of millions of dollars each.
A few months ago there was a rumor that JetBlue had secured slots at London Heathrow, but the airline quickly denied it, claiming the information was incorrect. Then in November 2020 we saw data on which airlines were granted slots at airports in the London area, and here’s what we learned about JetBlue:
- JetBlue received 14 weekly slot pairs at Gatwick Airport, which was enough for 2x daily flights (the airline requested 28 weekly slot pairs, 50% of that).
- JetBlue received 28 weekly slot pairs at Stansted Airport, enough for 4x daily flights (the airline requested 28 weekly slot pairs, so 100% of that).
- JetBlue requested 48 weekly slot pairs at Heathrow but was denied all of them
As you can see, JetBlue was quite a challenge, especially if we assume the airline plans to operate up to four daily flights to London initially (two from Boston, two from New York):
- The airline could operate all flights to London Stansted, but that is not ideal
- The airline could operate half of its flights from London Gatwick and half of its flights from London Stansted, but that’s not ideal either
With this latest reference, it seems to me that JetBlue figured out a way to get London Heathrow slots, although I have no idea how. Did the airline spend tens of millions of dollars buying them? Have they been granted the airline in any other way? Hmmm…
Could JetBlue fly to London Heathrow?
On the JetBlue website this morning, London Heathrow is listed as an airport served by the airline. It appears this was accidentally loaded prematurely, although to me this suggests that JetBlue intends to serve Heathrow and could have flights up for sale soon.
If so, the big question is how exactly did JetBlue secure Heathrow slots since the airline has been denied all slots requested at the airport.
What do you think – did JetBlue find a way to secure Heathrow slots or was someone at JetBlue dreaming when they uploaded this?