JetBlue Secures Permanent Heathrow Slots, Grows At Gatwick

JetBlue Secures Permanent Heathrow Slots, Grows At Gatwick

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There are some exciting updates today when it comes to JetBlue’s service to London.

JetBlue secures permanent London Heathrow slots

In the summer of 2021, JetBlue launched its much anticipated transatlantic service, as the airline started flying from New York (JFK) to both London Heathrow (LHR) and London Gatwick (LGW). The major catch is that London airports are congested, and in particular Heathrow Airport is heavily slot controlled.

JetBlue had initially been granted temporary slots at London Heathrow, due to other airlines having reduced service. The question has long been what JetBlue’s long term plan is at Heathrow, given that acquiring Heathrow slots is very costly. There’s a positive update on that front.

JetBlue has now received permanent slots at London Heathrow, meaning the airline will continue to be able to serve the airport. Specifically, for flights as of October 29, 2022, JetBlue has permanent London Heathrow slots for the following frequency:

B6007 New York to London departing 9:05PM arriving 9:30AM (+1 day)
B6020 London to New York departing 10:45AM arriving 2:05PM

It’s my understanding that JetBlue got the slots that used to belong to Aeroflot. Since Aeroflot can no longer fly to the UK, the carrier also had its slots seized. So JetBlue got quite a good deal here, since these slots can usually cost tens of millions of dollars to purchase.

This is of course fantastic news for JetBlue, but a single daily slot pair isn’t going to do much to allow the airline to grow out of the airport. I imagine JetBlue is hoping to acquire additional slot pairs, but that’s going to be quite a task. I also can’t help but wonder about the long term economics of a single daily flight with a narrow body (given the fixed costs of operating out of an airport as expensive as Heathrow).

JetBlue has secured permanent Heathrow slots

JetBlue adds third daily New York to London flight

Currently JetBlue operates one daily flight from New York to both London Heathrow and London Gatwick. As of October 29, 2022, JetBlue will add a second daily flight between New York and London Gatwick. This means that the airline will offer three daily flights between New York and London, so the schedule is growing very nicely.

This also doesn’t include JetBlue’s new service out of Boston, as the airline will also fly from Boston to both London Heathrow and London Gatwick as of this summer.

The gorgeous JetBlue Airbus A321LR

JetBlue adds fast track security in London

To improve the passenger experience, JetBlue will also start offering expedited security at both Heathrow and Gatwick. This will be available to JetBlue Mint passengers, Mosaic members (and companions), Even More Space passengers, and those who purchased Blue Extra fares.

At Heathrow, eligible passengers should follow signs for “Fast Track,” while at Gatwick, eligible passengers should follow signs for “Premium Security.” Unfortunately JetBlue still doesn’t offer lounge access, though.

JetBlue is adding premium security in London

Bottom line

It’s fantastic to see JetBlue’s continued growth in London. The airline has secured one permanent slot pair at Heathrow Airport, while the airline is adding a second daily flight to Gatwick Airport out of New York. This means JetBlue will operate a total of three daily flights between New York and London, in addition to JetBlue’s two new Boston flights.

What do you make of JetBlue’s Heathrow and Gatwick developments?

Conversations (15)
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  1. my Guest

    There's little reason to pay $2,500 or more round trip for a single aisle plane with no lounge access. So long as JetBlue charges as much as BA/AA do while not being part of an airline alliance and no lounge offering, I will not fly them between NY and London.

  2. Jim Guest

    I don't normally fly on B6, and don't plan to do so here, BUT - I wholeheartedly and unabashedly support competition in the marketplace. Even though NYC-LON is (supposedly) one of the most competitive intercontinental markets in the world, you wouldn't know it from flying there.

  3. Corbett Guest

    Your concerns about the small B6 footprint at Heathrow are valid and well taken. I predict further success now that pandemic restrictions are loose or vanishing. It comes down to this: JFK/LHR is, as you know, among the highest intercontinental routes in the world in terms of demand and load factors. The Mint product will drive demand from people who want to stretch out without depleting an entire year's expense allotment for a single business...

    Your concerns about the small B6 footprint at Heathrow are valid and well taken. I predict further success now that pandemic restrictions are loose or vanishing. It comes down to this: JFK/LHR is, as you know, among the highest intercontinental routes in the world in terms of demand and load factors. The Mint product will drive demand from people who want to stretch out without depleting an entire year's expense allotment for a single business class berth across the pond.

    1. Never In Doubt Guest

      Their planes have 16 premium seats.

      Everything they do will be a drop in the bucket of the massive LHR-NYC market.

    2. Dan77W Guest

      Just a quick correction, these planes have 23 available premium seats.

  4. Tim Dunn Diamond

    The good news for JBLU is that this set of permanent slots is about as good from a timing standpoint as JBLU could get - gifted or paid.
    The bad news is that it will be much harder for JBLU to get any more slots given to them because they will now be an incumbent airline at LHR. While there are rules that require airports to provide slots to airlines that don't have slots...

    The good news for JBLU is that this set of permanent slots is about as good from a timing standpoint as JBLU could get - gifted or paid.
    The bad news is that it will be much harder for JBLU to get any more slots given to them because they will now be an incumbent airline at LHR. While there are rules that require airports to provide slots to airlines that don't have slots but want to service an airport, there are no rules that require further slots be given to airlines that simply want to grow.
    If JBLU wants to obtain more LHR slots, the chances are high they will have to pay for them just as every other US airline has done by spending hundreds of millions of dollars in direct slot acquisitions or partnerships. There will be very few if any cases where slots are essentially abandoned as was the case with Aeroflot. If airlines leave LHR, they will gain some financial compensation in the process.
    As such, the economics of operating a narrowbody at LHR don't apply for this slot but will apply for slots that cost JBLU.
    LHR was the hardest airport to get into and JBLU has proven that it is possible so there will be more airports added to their European network.
    The real question is what happens to their alliance with American as that deal heads to court in a few months as well as the acquisition of Spirit which will be voted on by Spirit stockholders in 10 days.

  5. Creditcrunch Diamond

    Good for them, I imagine now they have certainty they can negotiate lounge access with T2 operators like Aer Lingus and Plaza Premium.

  6. GBOAC Diamond

    Maybe I missed this but which terminal does jetBlue use?

    And do JB passengers have to wait in some giant holding pen until the gate is announced perhaps less then an hour before departure time as seems to happen in several terminals?

    1. aeroguy Guest

      Terminal 2 - the home of Star Alliance carriers and a few others (EI being one, which also has it's own lounge there). No holding pens - those are the old LHR days. Terminal 2 is all open concept gates, with B6 arriving/departing off the T2A pier.

    2. GBOAC Diamond

      aeroguy: great to hear that. I was disappointed to experience waiting in T3 for a gate to be announced for our VS flight especially after finding both Priority Pass lounges overfilled:-(

  7. Anish Guest

    Costs aren't fixed in Heathrow, they charge on the no of passengers, as such the only cost savings would come from economies of scale with things like check in staff or a lounge if they ever get one.

  8. Steve Guest

    Five total flights a day (JFK&BOS-London) on routes that can easily fill a widebody. Even though JetBlue is a low-cost carrier, with that many London flights and with plans for more European destinations, I would think it would make sense to get some cheap wide-bodies, maybe used A330-300s, it's not like they need a lot of range. With London, with future Euro locations, and using the planes on some existing high-density routes (e.g., JFK-LAX), JetBlue...

    Five total flights a day (JFK&BOS-London) on routes that can easily fill a widebody. Even though JetBlue is a low-cost carrier, with that many London flights and with plans for more European destinations, I would think it would make sense to get some cheap wide-bodies, maybe used A330-300s, it's not like they need a lot of range. With London, with future Euro locations, and using the planes on some existing high-density routes (e.g., JFK-LAX), JetBlue could probably make use of 10-15 wide-bodies, which should be enough of a fleet to make it worthwhile to take the plunge into an additional type.

    1. Anthony Parr Guest

      Frequency attracts premium fares. That’s why Some US legacies are flying 757s and 767s into Heathrow.

  9. gideyup11 New Member

    Excellent news. As CEO Hayes said, NYC-LHR is ripe for competition especially in premium cabins. If JetBlue can keep Biz fares competitive at ~$2K-$2.5K r/t for all airlines flying this route (BA/AA/DL/VS/UA) then it's good for leisure travelers. That said, I just flew back from LHR-JFK on BA Biz last week, and even though (legitimately) many have gripes about BA, I must say it was a fantastic experience: expedited check-in, fast track security, decent lounges,...

    Excellent news. As CEO Hayes said, NYC-LHR is ripe for competition especially in premium cabins. If JetBlue can keep Biz fares competitive at ~$2K-$2.5K r/t for all airlines flying this route (BA/AA/DL/VS/UA) then it's good for leisure travelers. That said, I just flew back from LHR-JFK on BA Biz last week, and even though (legitimately) many have gripes about BA, I must say it was a fantastic experience: expedited check-in, fast track security, decent lounges, awesome Club Suite seat, friendly crew, and most importantly many flights (11 London-NYC daily flights!!), it's hard to beat BA. And if JetBlue can keep fares competitive, then it's a win/win for everyone.

    1. DCAWABN Guest

      That’s my concern, too. B6 J fares need to super competitive for years. They simply don’t have anything going for them. Single aisle planes with no ground service on a total of 5(?) frequency across two O/D pairs. And they’re connection performance in the US is garbage. They’re REALLY hoping for Boston/NYC O/D traffic that I just don’t think will materialize given the much better options for timing, connections, loyalty accrual and redemption, and service...

      That’s my concern, too. B6 J fares need to super competitive for years. They simply don’t have anything going for them. Single aisle planes with no ground service on a total of 5(?) frequency across two O/D pairs. And they’re connection performance in the US is garbage. They’re REALLY hoping for Boston/NYC O/D traffic that I just don’t think will materialize given the much better options for timing, connections, loyalty accrual and redemption, and service in the air and on the ground. Give me a 772/3 and a lounge with usable points and status at a $500-1000 premium any day. As much as I love to see competition and think B6 used to be a game changer, I’m also realistic about the nature of things and their current state as an airline. And I don’t see this lasting, at least in its current form, much longer.

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DCAWABN Guest

That’s my concern, too. B6 J fares need to super competitive for years. They simply don’t have anything going for them. Single aisle planes with no ground service on a total of 5(?) frequency across two O/D pairs. And they’re connection performance in the US is garbage. They’re REALLY hoping for Boston/NYC O/D traffic that I just don’t think will materialize given the much better options for timing, connections, loyalty accrual and redemption, and service in the air and on the ground. Give me a 772/3 and a lounge with usable points and status at a $500-1000 premium any day. As much as I love to see competition and think B6 used to be a game changer, I’m also realistic about the nature of things and their current state as an airline. And I don’t see this lasting, at least in its current form, much longer.

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aeroguy Guest

Terminal 2 - the home of Star Alliance carriers and a few others (EI being one, which also has it's own lounge there). No holding pens - those are the old LHR days. Terminal 2 is all open concept gates, with B6 arriving/departing off the T2A pier.

1
my Guest

There's little reason to pay $2,500 or more round trip for a single aisle plane with no lounge access. So long as JetBlue charges as much as BA/AA do while not being part of an airline alliance and no lounge offering, I will not fly them between NY and London.

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