< PrevNext > Transatlantic Competitor Robin Hayes, JetBlue CEO By Elizabeth West / December 13, 2021 / Contact Reporter Share After more than two years of planning and then waiting through the throes of a pandemic, JetBlue CEO Robin Hayes in 2021 fulfilled JetBlue’s ambition to be the first U.S.-based low-cost carrier to fly transatlantic service. It kicked off its inaugural New York-to-London flights in August with once-daily service to Heathrow. The carrier added Gatwick in September. It expanded again in November when the U.S. lifted travel restrictions on most international travel. The path to opening its transatlantic offering not only was fraught with pandemic obstacles but also required fleet upgrades as well as slot negotiations in London to achieve the carrier’s ultimate strategy: competing on traffic between the U.S. and London, and using it as a gateway to the European continent. The carrier took delivery of its first Airbus A321LR in April. JetBlue has 13 on order but delayed receipt of several as a pandemic financial precaution—that delay, in turn, has pushed back the launch of the JetBlue’s highly anticipated Boston-to-London service, but the carrier has said it will launch it in 2022. In the meantime, JetBlue spiffed up its Mint product with Mint Studios and Mint Suites to go head-to-head with hypercompetitive route players—British Airways and American Airlines along with Delta Air Lines and Virgin Atlantic—vying for the transatlantic business traveler. Where JetBlue really takes the gloves off in terms of competition, however, is in pricing. Like European LCCs that attempted a transatlantic gambit (and were undone by the pandemic), JetBlue is banking on lower ticket costs to attract bookings away from established players. If past is prologue, there may already be some indication that JetBlue’s entrance into the London market is bringing prices down, just as it did when the carrier launched the Mint product on U.S. transcontinental routes in 2014. Business-class ticket prices in January for New York-to-London itineraries on British Airways hover around $10,000 roundtrip, similar to pricing trends in late summer and fall. Delta’s first-class roundtrip tickets going into to January for the same route and dates, however, are coming in around $5,000, which compared with a fall pricing survey from The Points Guy reflects a 50 percent rate cut and brings it close to JetBlue’s Mint offering. Indeed, at least one Delta first-class flight on that route priced out below JetBlue Mint. Other variables are affecting airline pricing between New York and London right now, including a resurgence of Covid-19 infections and the omicron variant. Time may have to tell regarding permanent pricing impact. As JetBlue gains traction, Hayes has already expanded existing partnerships with Iceland air to leverage JetBlue’s new traffic coming into London.