JetBlue Wants To Launch Europe Flights With Mint-Heavy Configuration

For the past couple of years JetBlue has shared their desire to launch transatlantic flights soon, once they take delivery of their first A321neo aircraft.

I have so much respect for JetBlue as a company, and especially for how much they’ve succeeded outside their comfort zone. That’s to say that they started off as a low cost carrier with economy only planes, but a few years back introduced Mint, their business class product that’s available on select transcontinental routes. Mint has been wildly successful, and has been expanded way beyond the premium markets of New York to Los Angeles and San Francisco.


JetBlue’s A321 Mint cabin

Perhaps most impressively, JetBlue’s innovation has forced their competition to improve as well. Virtually all of their competitors have improved their premium transcon products and lowered prices as a result of JetBlue.

With that in mind, JetBlue has 60 A321neo aircraft on order, which they’ll start taking delivery of in 2019. These planes have a range that’s roughly 500nm longer than the current A321, meaning the plane could fly about 4,000nm.


JetBlue A321

This plane will enable JetBlue to finally tackle the transatlantic market without deviating too much from the core of their strategy (in order words, without acquiring widebody aircraft).

What’s interesting is that JetBlue wouldn’t view themselves as a competitor to Norwegian or WOW Air, but rather plans on entering the transatlantic market as a premium airline. JetBlue wants to disrupt the premium transatlantic market, and not the ultra low cost transatlantic market.


WOW Air A330

Per Air Transport World:

JetBlue would not be competing with the new long-haul LCCs, such as Norwegian and Iceland’s WOW Air, for the lower end of the market, Hayes said. But JetBlue could disrupt the upper end of the market in the same way the long-haul LCCs have disrupted the lower end of the transatlantic market.

JetBlue would equip its A321LRs with the Mint premium cabin. The number of Mint seats has not been determined, but would be more than the 16 seats on its current fleet of A321s, Hayes said. “The [A]321LR would allow us to do something a little different,” Hayes said.

There certainly will be more Mint seats, he said. Demand for the Mint cabin on the routes in which it is offered is very high, Hayes noted. “My only regret is that, with hindsight, we should have put more [Mint seats] in the fleet we have,” he said.

It looks like JetBlue intends to have more than 16 Mint seats on their transatlantic A321neo aircraft.


JetBlue A321 Mint seat

JetBlue has the ability to do something really neat here. No all business class transatlantic airline has ever succeeded (I’m not including La Compagnie, because they claim they’re breaking even, were just acquired, etc.). All those airlines are started with the logic of “well, if we could only get 5% of the premium New York to London/Paris market, we’d be making bank.” The problem is, doing that is much tougher than you’d think, when you can’t compete on frequency, product, etc.

Now, JetBlue isn’t being quite that extreme here. They’ll have a premium heavy configuration, but will absolutely still have a sizable economy cabin. However, I love the concept they’re going for — if there’s an airline that can disrupt the premium transatlantic market, it’s JetBlue.

I’d be curious to see if they come out with a couple of different transatlantic configurations, or if they simply choose transatlantic routes around those with premium demand. In other words, Mint demand to London will be very different than Mint demand to Dublin.

Hopefully within the next year or so we learn a lot more about JetBlue’s transatlantic aspirations, given that such flights are potentially only a couple of years away.

What do you make of JetBlue’s transatlantic strategy?

Comments

  1. The scientist in me is annoyed by the use of nm for nautical mile. The abbreviation should be NM. A nm is a nanometer or one billionth of a meter.

  2. I hope they will make a price lower then €1000 to a standard price from US Eastcost to Europe turn & return.

    The problem for JetBlue will be to get transfer passengers from other parts of Europe to example London. They need to start codeshare with an European airline that fits their standard.

  3. if they have the same effect on transatlantic business fares as they did on cross-country fares, this will be fantastic. There are a lot of people there who would be happy to pay $1800 roundtrip for flatbed to London.

  4. Think they’d only do this from JFK or would BOS be a possibility as well? Would love to see this at IAD too but doubt that happens.

    Top routes in Europe I think would be London (Whether that’s LHR or another airport), Paris, Amsterdam, Rome

  5. They’d have to build a customs facility at T5 then, would they not? And a real lounge. Airspace is terrible. This is great news, would force them to get even better at T5, and as a JetBlue frequent flyer, would love to have the option to fly them across the pond. Would be great if they converted some of their A321LR orders to A330neo or A350. They could use a widebody on a JFK – LHR route.

  6. YES! Anything in the $2,000 roundtrip range I’d absolutely shell out for to Europe, no brainer for me.

  7. One would think there’s demand for a boutique experience offering Mint + 34″ pitch Y seats to high yield markets in Europe from their JFK or BOS base. LON/PAR in particular–but maybe even like AMS/CPH? The difference between JetBlue and other attempted boutique operators would be that JetBlue has the domestic feed coming into these airports. If I live in PHX and want to go to Paris in Y, traveling JetBlue via BOS beats the crap out of AA via DFW/CLT or UA via IAD/EWR…

  8. I wonder if this would affect their redemption options. Instead of a fixed rate, maybe have a chart for transatlantic flights?

  9. Sounds great! Hopefully this will work out and they’ll buy a few larger planes with greater range for other prime locations in the EU and elsewhere. The competition will beneficial for everyone who travels internationally regularly.

  10. I really hope this will happen. I go to Europe several times a year, and am pretty loyal to Air France but would totally consider JetBlue Mint to get there as well if they fly to Paris. Given the service, food and all they offer on a domestic product, I can’t wait to see what they would come up with on an international, premium heavy market. My only grip is that their Mint seats aren’t always comfortable in flat position, and could use a little more padding.

  11. @Bo nah, that depends on your application.
    From Wikipedia:

    “There is no internationally agreed symbol.
    – M is used as the abbreviation for the nautical mile by the International Hydrographic Organization and by the International Bureau of Weights and Measures.
    – NM is used by the International Civil Aviation Organization.
    – nm (the SI symbol for the nanometer) is used by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
    – nmi is used by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and the United States Government Publishing Office.

  12. @Eric J.
    Although these would require extra range than flights originating from the Northeast, I think that that would be a genius move.

  13. @Gurujanitor
    JetBlue’s T5 already has a customs facility, though it only has a couple international gates AFAIK.

    Having Mint on a transatlantic flight would be a dream.

  14. Would be really interesting to see if it’s just out of BOS or JFK. If AA drops a lot of flights out of PHL then maybe they can move in there.
    Very interesting things.

  15. @GuruJanitor – the extension of T5 (“T5i”) opened in late 2014 has customs/immigration facilities. JetBlue uses it for international arrivals, as does TAP. (Aer Lingus’ flights at T5 are precleared.

    @Christoffer – wouldn’t be surprised to see them look for point-to-point opportunities first. I’d like to see them start JFK or BOS to Bristol or Cardiff, for example – CO used to offer EWR-BRS, I took it several times and the BusinessFirst cabin was always full.

  16. Great for JetBlue! It’s good to see more competition in the premium TATL space.

    As for range, if the A321neo only has 500 nano meters more range they got ripped off. Lol

  17. @ABC, It is A321s because Jetblue does not currently have any Boeings in their fleet. It would be weird to have a handful. It would be like Southwest buying a few A320s.

  18. jetBlue already codeshares with Emirates. Emirates flies TATL from Milan and Athens. I don’t know whether the rules of the USA-UAE Open Skies agreement would allow for a transatlantic joint venture between jetBlue and Emirates, but I wonder if this jetBlue’s plans could eventually lead in this direction?

  19. @ABC – other than the embrarers, JetBlue is an Airbus operator thus adding Boeing would cost a ton (new entire crew training, maintence teams, equipment, etc.). Plus, I believe the 321neo offers better economics than the 737max, but that may not be correct. Regardless, it would cost more for them to switch and they’d lose the leanness that has kept them strong.

  20. I think they would need a European partner and I’m not sure who that would be. Assuming they would want to include FLL as a destination and they wanted a single/primary Euro gateway (two huge, whopping ifs) Dublin, Cork, Shannon, Madrid and Lisbon are the airports comfortably in range. None of them are premium routes and EI, TAP and IB wouldn’t like the competition in their hubs on their big TATL routes in BOS and NYC. SNN is kind of a nowhere while Cork is kinda somewhere and could be a good feeder for Ryanair especially as it starts catering more to business travel.

    My guess would be FLL is out for now despite its B6 connections to Latin America and the Caribbean unless there’s someway to make DUB, MAD or LIS work.

  21. Maybe we can expect some kind of partnership with TAP? If only they improve the super crowded Lisbon Airport.
    I can only see them with Lufthansa and SAS, right?

  22. I don’t see JetBlue paying for the slots at Heathrow which are going for a record price these days. I suspect we’ll see BOS/JFK -> STN or LGW. If there were a BOS-STN flight available in Mint, I’d buy it in a heartbeat, and transfer all my other business over to JetBlue that I could.

  23. @ABC

    Because the A321LR is meant to be a B757 replacement, and has longer range than the B737MAX.

    Also see comments above regarding their fleet and the effect this have on staffing.

    And finally Norwegian has 30 A321LR on orders also planned for routes across the Atlantic. Norwegian is starting with the MAX now because that is ready now, the A321LR will not be launching before 2018 I think.

  24. @Justin: “If I live in PHX and want to go to Paris in Y, traveling JetBlue via BOS beats the crap out of AA via DFW/CLT or UA via IAD/EWR…”

    EXACTLY!

    And in fact I would choose them over the legacies to fly Y from the east coast to Europe without a ns* of hesitation. Or from the west coast to Europe. Or, really, from anywhere to anywhere else.

    *ns = nanosecond, not nautical second

  25. This is strictly FYI, and I definitely do not know every detail, but JetBlue already has an arrangement with EgyptAir out of JFK. You can fly Cairo to JFK business and connect with JetBlue in their regular better-than-usual coach on to JetBlue cities. EgyptAir will write the ticket that way. For my take on it, it just isn’t sufficiently lower than Cairo business-class directly to mid-America or the West Coast. Also JetBlue has a dreadful one-flight-a-day schedule to/from JFK.

  26. This is GREAT news. I love JetBlue and would love to see them de-throne United/Delta on some key international routes with their incredible Mint product.

    Since AliTalia is saying ciao ciao, maybe invest in routes to Italy…? Somewhere with obvious demand but not a huge hub like London where competition is through the roof. Idk, just a thought from a business perspective. From there, they could eventually grow and gain leverage to actually get in the ultimate high demand/high competition routes.

  27. Mint might be a great domestic premium product but internationally it’s so so. Not all seats have aisle access for example.

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