The New York-based air carrier JetBlue (JBLU) arrived at London Heathrow Airport (LHR) with its brand new Airbus A321 Long Range (LR) aircraft on August 12, 2021, the latest low-cost carrier to try its luck on the transatlantic route.

JetBlue’s (JBLU) Airbus A321LR, registered as N4022J, took off from New York John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) and touched down at LHR airport, marking its entry into the transatlantic competition.

“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.”

JetBlue (JBLU) will add more destinations to its schedule with flights between JFK and London Gatwick Airport (LGW) beginning September 29, 2021.

Competition between well-established rivals

JetBlue’s (JBLU) entrance into the transatlantic service might be bumpy, as airlines across the world have been unsuccessfully pushing the reopening of transatlantic routes for more than a year. Adding to that, entering the market at such times might be complicated, as 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. 

In April 2021, President and Chief Operating Officer (COO) of JetBlue Airways Joanna Geraghty said the air carrier 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.
 

JetBlue’s 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 transatlantic service. 

The Pratt & Whitney-powered single-aisle Airbus A321LR aircraft can reach a speed of 876 kilometers per hour 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. 

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

Currently, JetBlue (JBLU) has a total of 278 aircraft in its fleet, as per Planespotters.net data. The largest part of the airline’s fleet consists of 130 Airbus A320s. Adding to that, JetBlue (JBLU) operates 83 Airbus A321s, 60 Embraer ERJ-190s, five Airbus A220s, and one Airbus A321LR aircraft.