‘We’ll win more slots at Heathrow,’ predicts jetBlue boss

Exclusive: ‘Everyone thinks there’s all this competition across the Atlantic. There isn’t,’ says chief executive Robin Hayes

Simon Calder
Travel Correspondent
Friday 13 August 2021 17:12 BST
New jet: jetBlue’s Airbus waiting to depart from Heathrow to New York JFK
New jet: jetBlue’s Airbus waiting to depart from Heathrow to New York JFK (Simon Calder)

The chief executive of Heathrow’s newest airline has vowed to secure more landing and take-off slots to serve routes to New York JFK and Boston.

Robin Hayes, chief executive of jetBlue, was speaking exclusively to The Independent ahead of the first departure from the UK’s busiest airport to New York.

Despite the coronavirus pandemic and a continuing presidential ban on non-American arrivals to the US, jetBlue has launched flights from Heathrow as scheduled. It uses take-off and landing slots currently vacant because of the crisis in aviation.

But jetBlue’s sole daily departure on what was previously the world’s most profitable intercontinental air link is well short of the frequency offered by the existing competitors: American Airlines, British Airways, Delta and Virgin Atlantic.

Mr Hayes said: “We didn’t used to fly to La Guardia [in New York] – we elbowed our way in. We didn’t used to fly to DCA airport in Washington – we elbowed our way in. And we’re going to have to elbow our way into Heathrow.”

London is the biggest market out of New York that jetBlue did not previously fly. The chief executive says that fares are already falling as a result of the airline’s arrival.

“Everyone thinks there’s all this competition,” he said. “There isn’t. There’s three large joint ventures across the Atlantic. They’ve enjoyed high fares for years.

“It’s amazing how much fares have come down since JetBlue started flying one daily flight to Heathrow.”

The aircraft used is a narrow-bodied Airbus A321 aircraft, rather than the wide-bodied jets used by the competition: American Airlines, British Airways, Delta, United and Virgin Atlantic.

They offer economy passengers a 32-inch “seat pitch,” an inch more than most of the competition.

Separately, the Romanian airline Blue Air – completely unrelated to jetBlue – has announced flights from London Heathrow to Nice from September.

The link to the south of France is believed to use “remedy slots” that were made available after the British Airways takeover of BMI in 2012.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in