JetBlue Airways announced a third European city served by the “low cost” carrier this week. What cities are the next top contenders for JetBlue’s expansion into Europe?
JetBlue’s Europe Expansion Continues
Amsterdam in the Netherlands was added to JetBlue’s European destinations this week, joining London and Paris, both served by New York’s JFK and Boston Logan International airports. Jetblue’s London Heathrow and London Gatwick flights were thought to receive stiff competition from British Airways (the route had been valued at more than a billion in revenue to the carrier) but have succeeded. Paris was added for this summer and Amsterdam follows at the end of the summer after a public battle with Airport Coordination Netherlands.
Like the routes between JFK and London, Amsterdam is expected to be a daily flight on the capable Airbus A321LR.
Where To Next?
In an article I wrote just over a year ago, I stated the following regarding potential expansion opportunities for JetBlue:
“Just a few more long-range planes could add Paris, Dublin, Amsterdam, Lisbon, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Manchester, and on the outskirts of that could be Madrid, Frankfurt, Munich, Copenhagen, Helsinki and others.”
I’m not nostradameus (although it’s certainly a compliment if JetBlue’s route planning department reads Live And Let’s Fly) but my prior post is looking fairly instructive. JetBlue’s Paris Charles De Gaulle routes and now Amsterdam indicate what the focus is. It’s not expansion for expansion’s sake but rather the carrier is looking at high fare markets where it can bring its Mint Suite (and Mint Studio) product to markets that could use some competition. I remarked in the Paris launch article that there was already so many flights from New York to Paris, mostly from John F Kennedy International Airport (but also from Newark.) Both service to Paris and London suggest that the carrier was just trying to spread its wings on routes that sold many business class seats.
Amsterdam suggests a departure from that model.
Dublin has heavy competition from Aer Lingus at the bottom of the market.
Lisbon may also fail to add the premium customers the carrier is looking for (though many Portuguese-Americans settled in the Providence, Rhode Island area and Massachusetts.) Competing head-to-head in Boston with a TAP A321 NEO levels the playing field some vs nearly all wide-body flights to Paris.
Edinburgh, and Glasgow have been seasonal destinations for the likes of United and American Airlines and while there is likely enough demand yearround for New York-based equipment, the carrier would likely have to sell connecting traffic to make those markets work through Boston.
Manchester remains the most attractive card on the table. As a former resident, I frequented the airport often and found as many as three daily flights from American, Virgin Atlantic and Delta, two more from United, and another from US Airways at the time. Just Virgin Atlantic and Aer Lingus operate to the states from the UK’s second-largest metropolitan area and with Leeds and Liverpool each a short train ride away, the passenger pool could create a massive opportunity. The flight distance wouldn’t require any adjustments for the A321LR and what’s more, it’s safely within the range for the A321 NEO (more on that shortly.)
Madrid from both Boston and New York are further opportunities, though Barcelona is probably outside of the comfortable safety reserve limitations of an A321 NEO. With a focus on premium capacity and some weight restrictions for cargo, both Spanish routes could be possible (though I deem them unlikely.)
If the acquisition of Spirit Airlines by Jetblue is approved by regulators, the combined carrier will pick up another two A321 NEOs Spirit has on order which enables another route. But it’s also possible that swapping Spirit aircraft (but with JetBlue interiors and livery) could free up aircraft that could be used for such flights. For example, if JetBlue were to utilize its combined fleet it might free aircraft up to continue this gorwth even before new deliveries arrive from Airbus in Toulouse.
JetBlue flights to Europe have been successful so far and the carrier continues to advance on the continent. Its high speed Wi Fi, extra legroom, and reasonable costs without compromising great service have been well received and I think there is further opportunity on the other side of the Atlantic. Whether it’s Lisbon, Manchester, or something else, it seems likely to me that the airline is not done exploring its marketability in Europe.
What do you think? Where will JetBlue fly to in Europe next?