JetBlue Airways plans to launch next year a premium
product on transcontinental services connecting New York and Boston to San
Francisco and the Los Angeles area, chief commercial officer Robin Hayes said Wednesday
during a meeting with Wall Street analysts and media.
Details were scarce, but Hayes said the goal was to
"wow" customers with both the product and its corresponding price
Hayes noted that the carrier has underperformed competitors
on key transcontinental routes. In addition to missing a premium product, JetBlue's
lack of Wi-Fi has been another competitive disadvantage, he said.
Now, JetBlue is addressing both. The carrier expects
to launch this year its first Wi-Fi-enabled aircraft in conjunction with its LiveTV subsidiary and ViaSat.
"We know from our customer research and
feedback there are a lot of customers that fly us across the rest of our network
but shop away from us on transcon," he said. "Why? Because we don't
have a Wi-Fi offering. Increasingly customers don't want to be
Hayes has promised faster connection times and
better bandwidth as well as another competitive differentiator: Basic Wi-Fi connectivity
will be free—at least at the onset.
Still, the carrier is dreaming up ways to monetize
the product, and Hayes envisioned as possibilities advertising models or a
requirement that travelers sign up for its TrueBlue loyalty program for access.
JetBlue likely would charge passengers who choose
to consume higher levels of bandwidth by, for example, streaming Netflix movies
in-flight, Hayes said.