US carrier JetBlue could follow the launch of flights from New York and Boston to London later this year by flying to Paris.
JetBlue chief executive Robin Hayes revealed Paris is on his wish list as he accused transatlantic carriers of “gouging customers”.
Hayes described US-Europe business class fares as “outrageous” as he confirmed operations to London from Boston and New York JFK will commence in the third quarter of this year.
JetBlue has yet to announce which London airport it will fly to and from, but Hayes said: “We are close to announcing the airport.”
The airline has also yet to announce the launch dates for services or frequency of flights, but it has unveiled the cabins aboard the fleet of Airbus A321 LR (long range) aircraft it will use. These will offer JetBlue’s Mint business class cabin as well as economy.
Speaking at an online summit of the UK Institute of Travel Management (ITM), Hayes pledged: “We are going to disrupt the fare structure.
“Business class fares across the Atlantic are outrageous. Airlines are gouging their customers. We’re close to announcing our fare structure [on US-UK flights] and the [London] airport.”
JetBlue has built a reputation in the US for value and service despite being a low-cost operation.
Hayes conceded “we’ll be a small team”, but downplayed the challenge of marketing an airline new to Europe without a significant sales force.
He said: “We’re already a very strong US airline. When people see how low our fares are [the service] will sell itself. If you can fly in a fully flat seat with great food, live TV and free WiFi, why wouldn’t you?”
Hayes added: “Our biggest issue is going to be we don’t have enough capacity. We have 26 aircraft on order. [But] we’ll take time to build in the UK. There will be over 20 flights a day when we are up and running.
Asked where in Europe he would look to operate after London, Hayes said: “Paris, and some regional markets in England in summer.”
The New York-based carrier reported a loss of $247 million in the first three months of 2021, with revenue down 61% on the first quarter of 2019.
Hayes said: “We’re seeing very strong demand domestically from leisure travellers. Business travel is still only about 20% of normal. But we’ll fly slightly more [capacity] in July and August than in 2019.”
JetBlue confirmed plans to fly to London in April 2019, but its launch plans were delayed by the pandemic. The UK Civil Aviation Authority issued regulatory approval for the services earlier this month.
Airport Coordination, the UK slot coordinator, revealed JetBlue has been assigned slots at London Heathrow between August and October this year.