In August 2021, budget airline jetBlue launched a transatlantic route, its first, to London—flying from New York and Boston. And now it plans to launch a low-cost route to Paris in 2023.
The new route from the U.S.’s sixth largest airline will run from John F. Kennedy International airport into Paris’s Charles de Gaulle airport, with later plans to operate a route from Boston Logan airport too.
Budget airlines have been able to rival full-service competitors in short-haul operations because, as reported in The Economist, they keep operations tight. They keep the planes up in the air longer and because they fly from point-to-point don’t get bogged down in the complicated shuffling of passengers through their networks. They also use airports that are more off the beaten track and they fly at times when the airspace is cheaper, usually in the very small hours of the morning or night.
For long-haul, it is more difficult to beat these odds and the competition—staff must be put up for the night after shifts and planes cannot be turned around as fast, or slot into cheaper time slots, as easily. However, jetBlue think they have a solution.
In August 2021, jetBlue began picking up slots at Heathrow that were freed up during the pandemic, so that business travelers would see it as a viable alternative for travel to and from London. Additionally, the airline put 24 classy business seats into the front to raise revenue. It also uses the Airbus A321LR aircraft which is a cheaper, smaller plane—easier to fill and buy.
This model is true for the Paris route too. Customers can book one of these 24 business class cabins, which have doors that fully close, lie-flat beds, upmarket upholstering and special custom-made cocktails. A round-trip economy flight is likely to start at $599 and that will allow the 114 economy passengers to pick and choose their starters and main courses and to benefit from some of the widest economy class seats on U.S. carriers.
It’s just one of several low-cost airlines expanding into long-distance routes that connect the U.S. to major European travel destinations. Throughout 2022, the low-cost Icelandic airline PLAY began flying from Boston, Washington D.C. and New York Stewart International Airport (SWF) to major EU hubs, such as Dublin, Berlin, Paris, Copenhagen and of course, Reykjavík in Iceland.
And in May 2022, French Bee—another EU airline startup—launched a low-cost route from Los Angeles LAX to Paris (ORY) taking 10 hours.