JetBlue promised to reshape the transatlantic landscape through competitive fares and to some extent it has done so, but with the carrier now announcing new service to Paris it really has a chance to disrupt the market…but that will come through competitive one-way pricing.
As JetBlue Announces Paris Service, I’m Still Hoping For Attractive One-Way Pricing
Details are limited, but JetBlue will add service to Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG), also known as Roissy, in 2023 from both New York (JFK) and later Boston (BOS). This will mark JetBlue’s second transatlantic destination after it began service to London last year.
When JetBlue announced it was entering the transatlantic market in 2020, it promised to offer lower fares. As far back as 2018, JetBlue CEO Robin Hayes said:
I looked at some legacy brands and what they were charging a week out for business class between London and New York and it is obscene..eight, nine or ten thousand dollars. And, when we see that, we know that we can do that a lot cheaper….we think it’s a good opportunity, and when the time is right to take advantage, we may very well do that.
Four years later, JetBlue has made that happen. Last-minute one-way business class tickets are roughly half the cost on JetBlue as they are on its legacy competitors:
This is also true originating in London:
One-way economy class tickets, however, are routinely even more expensive than competitors:
But the promise of offering attractive one-way pricing has never come to fruition. Let’s use the same dates above to demonstrate. Round-trip tickets are cheaper than one-way tickets in either economy class:
or business class:
We have to realize that while other carriers have returned to profit, JetBlue has not. It’s already losing money and it’s not going to hurt itself even more.
Still, I think JetBlue could really come out ahead if it lowered prices just a bit, especially in economy class, such that a one-way ticket is less than a round-trip ticket. Carriers can get away with penalizing for one-way tickets (especially after the demise of Norwegian Air and the struggles of Norse Atlantic), because they can…it is what everyone else does.
But if JetBlue began charging, say, $400 one-way instead of over $900, not only would its load factors be better, but I would bet it would win more customers and loyalty on its U.S. domestic routes.
JetBlue will launch Paris service next year and in so doing, go up against Air France, Delta, and La Compagnie. This represents a great opportunity for JetBlue to capture a slice of the pie and I think the best way it can do so is by offering attractive one-way fares.
I flew JetBlue Mint from New York to London and more recently from London to Boston. The onboard product is great and I look forward to reviewing JetBlue’s “core” (economy class) product in 2023.
One-way international tickets are often purchased by business travelers or people who faced an event that causes them to be less sensitive to the cost, and airlines take advantage of that. In addition, these tickets are often in the upper fare buckets allowing for full flexibility and come with the least amount of strings attached, and with these airlines being companies, they’re just taking advantage of it in addition to these tickets providing the highest profit margins for a ticket. As you note, if the LCCs became successful with their strategy, then it would cause airlines to follow the trend such that they drive these LCCs out of business.
However, I will note that the presence of B6 longhaul flights to LHR has dropped the price for roundtrip BOS-LHR flights in Y or J. Typically, flights in J before B6 for BOS-LHR were about $3000 around the non-holiday season even if you planned months before, but right now, a flight in J in February next year are mostly all around $2200-$2500. Things can’t necessarily change overnight and not everything can be perfect, but, progress is being made and we can appreciate B6’s more customer-friendly vision for transatlantic flights
If that’s the case then why are tickets on the same flights half the cost if originating in Europe? Bottom line is that Americans are gullible and will pay them. This is why I work to book round trips originating in Europe (London not so much) as the market is completely different for exactly the same. My point? The margins for airlines in J to Europe are insane from the U.S. They have more than enough room if someone puts pressure on them.
We’re agreeing on the same point. That’s the point that I’m essentially making, especially with my example with the BOS-LHR market and the impact B6 made.
Another example, LH/LX/AF in first class is often between $4000-$5000 from Europe to NA if you look at the right dates. The reverse trip is often $2000 more expensive unless there’s a sale. Or, if we look at flights in J to Asia, they’re often at least $2000 more expensive starting in the US compared to starting in Asia because customers won’t pay outrageous prices nor is there the competition. It’s just basic economic principles at the end of the day.
Agreed but would say that the difference is even more breathtaking than your examples. I often pay $2700 r/t on J fares originating in Europe where the similar in reverse would be $6K from the U.S. It’s insane. Sadly people are actually paying this. I guess? That’s what fuels this disparity. And there are far more one way fares that are competitive in J out of Europe that are often around $2K. Yet try and get a one way from the U.S. and it’s complete gouging. Especially for the level of service you get.
Asia Is not quite as bad…I still see deals out of the U.S. on premium cabins. But Europe to Asia is often a steal. I need to be in Europe and then Manila right after in January and can now get around $1800 one way on many carriers without an issue in J. You will never find that out of the U.S. other than to Japan from LA on odd days here and there.
Let’s face it. We are the most over charged market in the world. And we bail many of them out financially as well when they go bankrupt! Clearly the system is broken.
I found some $500 lie flat air India seats from Dubai to Bangkok last month. I know not everyone’s airline cup of tea.
I also had a lot of luck for five of us(!) booking two legs on emirates one way in economy (Düsseldorf to Dubai and then Dubai to Hanoi) and upgraded both legs. The first I upgraded at the time of booking (on the a380) and the second at checkin on the 777. Both economy flights were $500 one way.
In terms of economy Icelandic has some good deals one way to Europe. We flew to London with a stopover in Reykjavik for cheap in June.
@Mick. Pretty much what I have been talking about. Also, Gulf Air, Oman, Saudi and others offer incredible fares in premium cabins to Asia from Europe. That’s Matthew’s point in a way. All other markets in the world have so much competitive pricing from many carriers that it keeps fares, even in premium cabins, at more approachable levels. The hope was that JetBlue would finally shake up the U.S. -Europe market in much the same way, especially London and Paris, which have astronomical fares other than at a few off peak times. Especially so with one way flights originating in the U.S.
Icelandair is no doubt cheaper if originating in the U.S. in premium, more along the lines of what Europeans pay on Alliance airlines when originating there TO the U.S. But it’s not enough to impact the legacy carriers to match them. Just not enough impact I guess to the market. Bottom line is there will need to be a number of carriers with decent products to put a dent in airlines making the U.S. market more reasonable and along the lines of what you see from Europe to Asia. Alas, few ever seem to survive long term like Norwegian. JetBlue was a great hope as they have the network to really make Europe work and shake up the market. But I fear that their alliance with AA is really impacting a desire to be a disruptor.
Great point Matthew, would love to see international one way pricing look more like domestic pricing.
Also @Matthew, I commented earlier in the week about a potential United JSX partnership, that was confirmed today at the Skift aviation event. You can now book JSX flights directly on the United app. That’s a great addition for United. My company has a handful of employees who prefer to fly out of Burbank, and want to fly United, but the only options have been to connect in DEN or SFO. Now you can fly “United” from BUR to LAS, OAK, PHX, etc. Great job to United on this very unique partnership!
Also sounds like United is finally getting rid of the two fixed meal options in domestic first class and will once again have a continuously rotating menu. Haven’t had a chance to watch the entire interview yet with Linda Jojo but sounds like there are some promising changes on the customer side coming soon.
I’ll check it out!
I say JetBlue should price their tickets at whatever the market dictates..PERIOD. If more expensive one way pricing is working for them….KEEP IT! Who sells a product for less than what they can and for what purpose?
I tend to agree. There’s obviously not much more demand created for last minute business type trips by slashing prices. I’m assuming the algorithm is set to “make the most money”. Only leisure carriers want to take a punt and they seemingly don’t survive on the transatlantic.
Incidentally australia and the USA used to have terrible one way pricing but it eventually became a one way fare market. Not sure what the impetus was.
American also flies JFK-CDG so B6 will be going up against that too.
If Jet Blue really want to disrupt, they need to replace their A21Ns with A35Ks. The volume at which they are currently operating to slot restricted airports won’t successfully disrupt anything.
That and fly out of other major US airports. Most people don’t want to have to connect in NY or BOS to fly JetBlue. They should have flights to LHR/CDG from IAD or BWI, Chicago, FL, and a few other cities.
B6 is offering an alternative product to Europa. It needs to nurture the service and test the waters with each expansion. If it moves too fast, we’ll have another Norwegian episode. As for pricing, let the algorithms handle that with some marketing department tweaking.
Should B6 hand the NK consolidation and NEA trial without too much indigestion, Milan would be my next choice. Amsterdam would be nice, but DL and KLM would fight you like a rabid dog.
Pick your battles carefully.
We flew B6 from BOS -> LHR ->BOS this past October in Mint class. The service onboard was excellent. We chose B6 for this trip as my cousins joined us and flew economy and we got a great deal on tix when they announced. I usually fly 6-7 RT a year in J class, and many many more miles domestically, so I have come to expect the little extras that come with this level of flying. Unfortunately, B6 hasn’t invested into their foreign bases much yet, and while we had Priority pass lounge access in LHR, it was dingy, dusty and rather poor offerings for a lounge. Usually I just want a comfy sit without screaming kids and a clean bathroom so it was fine, however I’d much prefer to travel on Delta/AFKLM/Virgin on my next transatlantic trip., They just offer a higher level of service from check-in to baggage claim that B6 can’t offer yet. I wish B6 would introduce a “euro-style” business class on their non-mint equipped a320’s and I’d probably fly them more. Delta it is for now.