Portland. Providence. Paris. One of these three is not like the other, and yet it might be if popular low-cost airline JetBlue pushes ahead with apparent plans to purchase planes capable of flying over the Atlantic Ocean.
The airline consistently ranks high in our Readers' Choice Awards among the best airlines in the U.S. and, with such rave reviews, it's no wonder that rumors pop up of the airline potentially adding Europe to its route map.
Last July, JetBlue strongly hinted that it had been shopping for aircraft capable of flying further than its current fleet of Airbus and Embraer planes.
At the time, JetBlue spokesperson Doug McGraw addressed Europe directly in a comment to Condé Nast Traveler, saying: "Europe suffers from the same lack of competition and high fares as (transcontinental) routes have. We have not committed to the LR (long-range aircraft), or to adding Europe to our network, but that is certainly an environment that JetBlue competes well in."
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According to Brian Sumers at Skift, JetBlue CEO Robin Hayes recently confirmed some rumors, as the airline is sizing up the Airbus A321LR, a version of the current favorite Airbus A321, but with the added ability to efficiently fly longer routes.
The question, for Hayes, is: "Will flying that airplane to … Europe drive a higher rate of return than flying it elsewhere in our network?”
With ultra-low-cost airlines like Wow Air and Norwegian already selling seats from as little as $69 each way between the U.S. and Europe, and deals from the major airlines frequently dropping as low as $400 roundtrip (even over holidays), there's little doubt that JetBlue has sleepless nights and numbers to crunch ahead of any decision.
The funny thing is JetBlue already serves Europe … kind of. Airline partnerships are confusing, and JetBlue has a long list of them that allow travelers to book flights to Europe on JetBlue's website.
For example, its agreement with TAP Portugal makes it possible to book and pay once for flights from, say, Savannah to Lisbon, with JetBlue flying you from Savannah to New York, and TAP taking over for the long-haul to Portugal. If JetBlue begins their own service to Europe, travelers from the U.S. would be able to fly the one airline the whole way, enjoying the airline's signature service (unlimited snacks!) the entire way.
How many free bags of Terra Blue potato chips does it take to cross the ocean?