JetBlue has announced a trans-Atlantic route for the first time between New York and Heathrow, while the US maintains its tight grip on restrictions with UK citizens.
The non-stop service will operate from New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport and Terminal 2 at London Heathrow Airport, flying daily in August, and four times weekly in September.
The move comes as more low-cost airlines are entering larger cities during the post-pandemic recovery.
In a statement, the New York-based carrier said the first commercial flight with passengers landed in Heathrow just before 10am local time on 12 August.
“For the first time in JetBlue’s 21-year history we are crossing the North Atlantic and competing in one of the busiest travel markets in the world,” said chief executive Robin Hayes.
“As the UK opens to travellers coming from America, our flights are well-timed to meet the pent-up demand for travel between our two countries.”
In late July, the UK announced it would relax its travel restrictions with the US and European Union to double-jabbed citizens, enabling passengers to bypass quarantine.
As long as travellers have been jabbed with the NHS-approved vaccines, US citizens must show a verification card and EU citizens would show the ‘green pass’ upon arrival.
Government officials have said the move would be “finely balanced” to increase tourism and restore some of the UK’s core economic drivers.
But the US has still maintained its tight restrictions on the UK, who are still banned from entering the country, despite major calls to relax the rules.
Dame Karen Pierce DCMG, UK ambassador to the US, said this route would offer vaccinated American’s a path to “doing business, holidays, and family reunions”, after the long border closures.
In 2019, the carrier announced it would transform its 13 Airbus A321 aircraft into A321LR variants to offer the range of a wide-body for cheaper operating costs.
And 13 more of the JetBlue’s A321 jets have now been converted into the XLR to accommodate the forecasted increasing demand amid the transatlantic launch.
Jeffrey Knittel, chairman and CEO of Airbus Americas, said that as the international market recovers, the A321LR would position JetBlue to offer long-haul international travel at the lowest cost and risk.
Since international travel has been restrained from the pandemic, more airlines have readjusted fleet strategies, investing in narrow-body aircraft as wide-body jets wither in demand.
Industry leaders have previously said narrow-body jets will drive the recovery and dominate the market in the coming years as international travel resumes.