JetBlue will add a second daily flight between its JFK home base and Heathrow Airport this summer. The carrier secured slots to operate a daytime flight eastbound, leaving New York in the morning and landing the same day in London. The aircraft will overnight at Heathrow, returning to New York (relatively) early the following morning.
The new service will launch on 25 March 2023 eastbound, departing JFK at 8:30am. The return service will begin on 26 March with an 8:25am departure from Heathrow.
The new flight does not, however, boost capacity for the carrier between New York and London. With the second Heathrow flight now available JetBlue will reduce its double daily service to Gatwick to a single flight. In total, the carrier will serve London 3x daily from JFK and 2x daily from Boston for Summer 2023.
That JetBlue is keeping its capacity into London flat, despite every indication of high demand for the Summer 2023 season, also reflects the reality of its limited long-haul fleet. Airbus A321LR deliveries are slipping and JetBlue is among the affected airlines. Pilots at the company are seeing their transition training for the fleet shift by 3+ months in some cases. Rumors are also swirling that the Paris launch will be pushed back a few months.
That this new schedule requires a plane to sit in Heathrow for 12 hours does not boost efficiency of the limited fleet. But when it comes to Heathrow slots, airlines will generally take whatever slots they can score. And JetBlue is not at all shy about its desire to expand at Heathrow. The times for these flights (8:45pm arrival, 8:25am departure) were almost certainly easier to secure than additional morning arrivals for a redeye operation.
Also, the flight timing does boost efficiency of crews, assuming they make the turn with the plane rather than spending an extra night in London on each trip.
The daytime flights also typically serve a very different customer market than the redeye routes. On the US side, JetBlue can only offer same-day connections from a handful of cities (Boston, Worcester, Buffalo, Rochester) as well as a few redeye connections from the West coast. Many of those customers are better served by nonstop options, however. JetBlue will need to fill these planes with passengers originating in NYC, not connections. The carrier already operates with a higher share of traffic on point-to-point flights rather than connecting. The daytime flight to London will test the company’s ability to profitably fill the planes with those passengers.
Focusing on the nonstop passengers should allow JetBlue to drive higher yields on these flights. But it also comes with notable competition in the market. British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, and American Airlines all also offer the morning departures from JFK. BA can offer a few onward connections that same evening into continental Europe, while Delta and American can feed the flight better at JFK.
But JetBlue wants to be part of the fight in this market, and running the morning departure from JFK gives it a shot at the business travelers who prefer to work on the plane rather than sleep.
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