New York-based low-cost air carrier, JetBlue (JBLU), conducted its first test flight to London Heathrow Airport (LHR) with its brand new Airbus A321 Long Range (LR) aircraft before entering the transatlantic market in August 2021.

The GM Europe of JetBlue (JBLU), Maja Gedosev, tweeted a video clip welcoming its new Airbus A321LR, registered as N4022J, to London Heathrow Airport (LHR) on July 13, 2021. JetBlue Airbus A321LR conducted its first test flight B69400 in advance of a transatlantic launch route. 

JetBlue (JBLU) will jump into the transatlantic market with nonstop operations between New York John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) and London Heathrow Airport (LHR) beginning August 11, 2021. It will add more destinations to its transatlantic schedule with flights between JFK and London Gatwick Airport (LGW) starting September 29, 2021.

“The pandemic has opened doors to London’s two busiest airports, and we look forward to bringing customers low fares and great service at both Heathrow and Gatwick,” CEO of JetBlue Robin Hayes said. “JFK-LHR, the single largest international air travel market from the US, has long suffered from outrageously high fares for far too long, especially in premium cabins.”

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JetBlue is set to begin its transatlantic journey on August 11, 2021.
 

Competition between well-established rivals

JetBlue’s (JBLU) entrance into the transatlantic service might be bumpy, as airlines have been unsuccessfully pushing the transatlantic reopening for more than a year and the timeline of route reopening between the US and UK has not been set. Additionally, entering the market at such times might be complicated because a newbie in the US and UK international air travel market would need to compete with well-established market rivals such as British Airways or Virgin Atlantic. 

Earlier in April 2021, President and Chief Operating Officer of JetBlue Airways Joanna Geraghty said the airline was looking forward to the competition, as it was preparing for the first flight to the United Kingdom. 

“It is great to be welcomed to a competition, I can’t wait to fly head to head with Virgin Atlantic,” Geraghty said during the World Aviation Festival virtual event on April 22, 2021. 

In response, Virgin Atlantic CEO Shai Weiss said that the British air carrier would take the competition with JetBlue (JBLU) “extremely seriously”.

“Our job is to make their lives extremely difficult, and provide a level of service that our customers are accustomed to and win in the marketplace. Welcome to London and let the games begin,” Weiss said.

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JetBlue is ready to challenge Virgin Atlantic on transatlantic routes, the airline’s president says.
 

Brand new Airbus A321 Long Range (LR) aircraft

On April 29, 2021, JetBlue (JBLU) announced it had taken delivery of its first Airbus A321LR aircraft bound to launch the airline’s first-ever transatlantic service to LHR.

Pratt & Whitney-powered single-aisle Airbus A321LR, registered as N4022J, can reach a speed of 876 km/h and has a range of 7,400 kilometers ‒ the parameter which, according to JetBlue (JBLU), would allow it to tap into long-haul markets that were not previously possible with the airline’s existing fleet. Also, the newly delivered Airbus A321LR offers 30% fuel savings and a nearly 50% reduction in noise footprint.

Additionally, JetBlue (JBLU) is the first launch partner for the new Airspace cabin configuration designed by Airbus to bring long-haul style to the Airbus A321 aircraft. With the Airspace cabin configuration, the A321LR aircraft has a layout of only 138 seats: 114 in economy class and 24 in JetBlue’s (JBLU) Mint Suites. Standard Airbus A321LR aircraft configuration has a capability to seat up from 180 to 220 passengers. 

Currently, JetBlue (JBLU) has a total of 276 aircraft in its fleet, Planespotters.net data shows. The largest part of it consists of Airbus A320 family aircraft with 130 Airbus A320-200s as well as 83 Airbus A321 aircraft. Adding to that, JetBlue (JBLU) operates 60 Embraer ERJ-190 jets and three Airbus A220-300s.

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JetBlue received its first Airbus A321 Long Range (LR) aircraft.