America: Simon Calder discusses UK travel restrictions
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Budget US airline JetBlue has unveiled plans for two new direct flight routes from the UK to New York City. The flights will depart from London Heathrow Airport and London Gatwick Airport to New York’s JFK.
With the aim of replacing the now-defunct Norwegian, the flights will start in time for summer with the Heathrow flights beginning August 11 and Gatwick flights beginning from September 29.
The airline says it hopes to “disrupt the market” and offer an affordable introductory price.
JetBlue’s introductory ticket costs start at £329 for a round-trip in its “core” class – similar to economy class.
Meanwhile, “mint” class tickets, much like business class, begin at £999 for a round-trip.
For August flights, JetBlue is the cheapest on the market for the direct route.
By comparison, based on current online ticket prices in August 2021, British Airways has economy class tickets round-trip from £1,581.
In September, the airline has round-trip flights starting from £389.
Meanwhile, Virgin Atlantic has the same route on offer for £1,581 in August and £419 in September.
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“Our low fares will disrupt the pricing of the major carriers and massive joint ventures, JetBlue’s presence in this market is going to be immediately noticeable to customers, commented Robin Hayes, chief executive officer, JetBlue.
“The pandemic has opened doors to London’s two busiest airports, and we look forward to bringing customers low fares and great service at both Heathrow and Gatwick,” he continued.
“JFK-LHR, the single largest international air travel market from the US, has long suffered from outrageously high fares for far too long, especially
in premium cabins. We’re ready to change that with a price point and experience that will impress even the most discerning transatlantic flyers.
“We’ve always said that JetBlue would serve multiple London airports, and we’re pleased to have secured a path at Heathrow and for long-term growth at Gatwick, which offers speed, low costs, and convenient accessibility into Central London.”
Flights on both routes will operate daily on JetBlue’s new Airbus A321 Long Range aircraft.
The airline’s arrival at Heathrow Airport has been hailed by the flight hub’s chief executive officer as a “ringing endorsement of value for passengers.”
“JetBlue is a fantastic airline, renowned for delivering top-quality service at competitive prices,” said Mr Holland-Kaye.
“That value for money mantra is also at the heart of what we do at Heathrow, and we’re delighted that we’ll be seeing their characteristic blue tailfins at the airport later this year.”
Similarly, Stewart Wingate, chief executive officer at Gatwick Airport said: “Being able to offer our customers the low cost, high-value experience from JetBlue, with daily flights to New York starting in just a few months, is a welcome addition to the choice of airlines and destinations which Gatwick currently has.”
Though it is not yet clear whether or not the US will be added to the UK “green list” in time for summer, flights are already on sale and industry insiders remain hopeful.
Mr Holland-Kaye added: “Ministers should help more people travel safely and boost the economy by moving more low-risk destinations – including the US – to the green list as vaccination rates increase and infections decrease.”
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