This week JetBlue announced plans to fly New York JFK and Boston to London some time in the future and excitement erupted well out of proportion to what we actually learned from the news.
Associated Press travel reporter David Koenig noted this claim on Thursday from airfare predictor Hopper,
Travel-data firm Hopper expects fares between London and JFK, BOS to fall 12% after @JetBlue starts flying the routes in 2021.
— David Koenig (@airlinewriter) April 11, 2019
That seemed bizarre to me. We do not yet know,
- When JetBlue will start service
- How many times a day they’ll fly
- How many seats they’ll offer on each aircraft
- Even which airport (out of 5) they’re going to fly to in London
And the notion that JetBlue’s service is going to be the key determinant of future fares seems odd considering we’re talking about as much as three years from now.
- What will the economy be like?
- What will Brexit look like, and how will that impact travel to and from London?
- How expensive will fuel be?
- Will Norwegian still be flying?
Surely Hopper had a sophisticated model that answered these questions in order to make such a bold claim, after all they’re an airfare data company, right?
It turns out that the claim is based on what happened to fares when JetBlue started flying New York – Trinidad and Tobago.
The study was carried out by travel comparison site Hopper, which noted that historically, when JetBlue enters an international market, fares plummet by on average 12 per cent
Though it can be even more.
Hopper pointed out that when the carrier launched flights from Fort Lauderdale and New York’s JFK to Trinidad and Tobago, it spurred savings on all airlines of up to 26 per cent.
JetBlue has extensive service in the Caribbean and operates as far south as Ecuador. They’ve never flown transatlantic, and their international service hasn’t started along such already-competitive routes as New York and Boston – London. There are currently 27 peak daily departures between New York and London airports alone. A handful of additional narrowbody flights seem unlikely to materially affect fares overall, especially when low cost transatlantic carrier Norwegian already flies New York – London.
Where JetBlue could make a difference is in business class fares — for customers with flexibility to travel at times JetBlue is offering service. There may be some price matching from other airlines, though likely only on a limited basis because of the limited capacity which will presumably be offered by JetBlue at low fares.
I do not need Hopper’s trove of data to say, unequivocably, that JetBlue on its own will not move the needle on transatlantic London fares 12% — because they’ve historically done so on thinner Caribbean routes.