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Is JetBlue launching London Heathrow to New York flights in August?

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It looks like JetBlue will launch flights from the US to London Heathrow after all, despite being awarded slots at Stansted and Gatwick.

The US airline, which has been planning its first foray into transatlantic flying since 2019, has pursued coveted Heathrow slots for some time. In January, it filed a formal complaint about London slot access, arguing that it had been locked out of Gatwick and Heathrow.

JetBlue launching Heathrow

Will JetBlue launch flights to London Heathrow in August?

Whilst the slot filing in November 2020 suggested that JetBlue would initially start flying between Stansted and Boston and Gatwick and New York, it now appears that JetBlue has secured some slots at Heathrow.

How do we know this? A glitch on the airport website!

As spotted on Twitter by @lines_aviation, two JetBlue flights have appeared on Heathrow Airport’s terminal finder. Here is what happens when you look for flights from JFK on the 2nd August:

JetBlue Heathrow B61407

and

JetBlue Heathrow B61408

‘B6’ is JetBlue’s IATA airline code.

The fact that these flights have been loaded into Heathrow’s systems suggest that they are very likely to go ahead. Flights from a new airline wouldn’t accidentally find themselves on Heathrow’s terminal finder unless plans had advanced sufficiently. Someone has either pulled the trigger prematurely or wasn’t expecting anyone to find them.

JetBlue launching London Heathrow

What flights is JetBlue planning from Heathrow?

As you can see, it appears that JetBlue is planning for a daily service between Heathrow and New York:

  • B61407 (New York – London) would arrive into Heathrow at 10:10am.
  • B61408 (London – New York) would depart Heathrow at 6:10pm.

These flight numbers are currently being used for JetBlue flights between Fort Lauderdale and Las Vegas. If the Heathrow website is correct, they are either placeholders for the real flight numbers or they will be used instead. London Heathrow often commands ‘prestigious’ flight numbers, so it would not be surprising to see these change when an official announcement is made.

The timings are a little odd – the aircraft would be sitting on the tarmac for over eight hours. This would get expensive at a busy airport such as Heathrow where every minute on the ground is another minute of paying gate fees and parking charges. It is also expensive from a pure depreciation point of view on a hugely expensive aircraft.

The flights would operate from Terminal 2, which would make sense. JetBlue would likely use the Plaza Premium or Aer Lingus lounge, with whom it has a partnership from Ireland.

No Boston flights appear, which suggests that either the information is incomplete or JetBlue will operate these from Gatwick or Stansted as currently planned.

It would be extremely unlikely for JetBlue to launch just one daily flight to Heathrow if it expects to make any inroads into the current transatlantic duopoly.

JetBlue initially requested 48 weekly slot pairs at Heathrow, which would enable it to operate between six and seven flights daily. We are likely to see further frequencies – and potentially destinations – announced.

JetBlue London Heathrow launch

When will JetBlue make an official announcement?

In February, JetBlue unveiled the updated ‘Mint’ business class seat that would debut on transatlantic and select transcontinental flights this year.

JetBlue will need to start selling tickets soon if the flights are due to launch in the third quarter as currently seems to be the case. Unless it wants to fly empty planes it will need to open booking in the coming weeks or months, although the novelty value of a highly-regarded new carrier should help.

What isn’t clear is whether these slots have been awarded on a temporary basis – whilst many airlines have reduced their flying schedules from Heathrow – or permanently.

In other words, is JetBlue borrowing the slots from another airline that doesn’t need them in 2021 or has it secured them in their own right?

The bigger question is how much JetBlue is paying for them. Most recently, Air New Zealand was paid £20 million for its single daily take-off and landing slot. Has JetBlue coughed up a similar amount?

The plot thickens – hopefully we will get official confirmation soon ….

Comments (47)

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  • Mikeact says:

    And their Mint Class looks absolutely fantastic for a lower cost airline..

  • tony says:

    In addition to racking up parking fees, that 6pm departure also means no meaningful connections from the JFK hub, with which only one flight a day they probably need to rely on…

    • ChrisC says:

      Don’t forget from JFK they have a code share arrangement with AA which opens things up.

      And Jet Blue are very agile in their scheduling and will soon put on a few late departures to onward destinations

      In October for example they have JFK flights to LAX and SFO due to depart (according to google flights) around 10pm. Move those to 11PM and you pick up two prime markets.

      • Chrisasaurus says:

        It’s a hard pass from me on a 11pm departure from jfk connecting off a tatl sector…

    • Chris says:

      In the before times I was a big fan of AA107 that left LHR around 1700 for JFK. it let you do a reasonable day in the office before getting to NYC with a chance to sleep and start the day fresh in NYC. It also let you connect onto transcontinentals to SFO/ LAX if I wanted the extra 210 TP on the way to tech meetings. 6pm might not work with the connections but it would be good for minimising time loss to NYC

  • Confused_of_Glos says:

    Apologies if it’s poor form to link to other sites, but Uganda Airlines managed to recently get a fairly prime arrival slot at Heathrow reportedly without paying for it, which at the time I thought might be an attempt to lock JetBlue out by whoever held the original slot, so it would appear there could be space: https://simpleflying.com/uganada-airlines-heathrow-slot/

  • TeesTraveller says:

    The new Loganair Teesside-Heathrow appeared on the Heathrow website in a similar fashion about a fortnight before it was officially announced. However the original timings were incorrect and were subsequently changed when the flights went on sale.

  • Ian says:

    Please can we have correct grammar in these articles? It’s not “the aircraft would be sat on the tarmac for over eight hours”, it’s “the aircraft would be sitting on the tarmac for over eight hours”.

  • ChrisW says:

    Can’t imagine the LHR departure time is going to be that popular. A late arrival into JFK.

    • flyforfun says:

      If it wasn’t a good time, why would AA and BA have flights at similar times?

      Makes sense if you want most of the day in the office then head to LHR in the afternoon before hopping onto a flight.

      • Rhys says:

        As it stands, the flights clearly favour American businesspeople coming to London for the day.

        I would be surprised if JetBlue launched Heathrow with only one daily flight, however. I imagine there will be more frequencies with an official announcement. Would be difficult to compete with everyone else otherwise.

    • ChrisC says:

      Nonsense. Evening flights are popular.

      Absent Covid both VS/DL and BA/AA have later departures that that to JFK

      A 6PM LHR departure would land at JKK around 9pm NYC time. Which is not that late.

    • marcw says:

      They don’t want to focus on connections. They want to focus on non-stop service.

  • insider says:

    not sure these are permanent slots, maybe just picking up some of the slot hand backs for the summer? Seems odd for them to pay so much for Heathrow slots, surely they can’t recover that much money given the small aircraft they will be using

    • Rob says:

      I guess the truth is in the middle. NO WAY is JetBlue going to go to all the expense of advertising a Heathrow service if its doesn’t have the slots beyond 31st October, or even 31st March 2022. If the slot is leased, it will have been leased for a couple of years.

      It would also be illogical to buy slots at the moment given that there is a chance that a lot go back into the pool when slot restrictions are removed.

      • ChrisC says:

        I don’t think they bought them but these are orphan slots other airlines have released into the pool as part of the relaxation of the use/lose waiver.

        As you mention the economics of LHR and being sat there for 8 hours and the parking and tugging fees to/from a gate will soon mount up (unless they have done a deal with HAL for a discount) and they won’t want those costs as well as a lease to pay.

  • Jonny Price says:

    Another interesting find on the Heathrow website is a multiple daily Loganair Heathrow to Newquay service from this summer. I wonder if they have secured the PSO funding for the route. If so, will BA exit the market and just codeshare with Loganair? Just need Loganair to start Leeds Bradford and Guernsey and they will have backfilled many of the recently lost Heathrow routes

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