JetBlue secures London Heathrow slots for its transatlantic debut

Mar 26, 2021

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JetBlue’s hop across the pond may actually land at London’s most desirable airport.

The New York-based airline has been allocated 270 slots for flights to and from London Heathrow (LHR) airport. On Friday, Airport Coordination Limited (SCL), the slot coordinator for London’s Heathrow airport (LHR), released an updated report for the summer 2021 schedule, which includes the aforementioned slots given to JetBlue for its inaugural transatlantic service.

180 slots have been allocated for flight to New York-JFK and the remaining 90 are earmarked for service to Boston (BOS).

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JetBlue will fly to Terminal 2 at LHR, per the slot filings.

The carrier has received 14 slots beginning during the week of 2 August, so daily London service could theoretically begin then. That number jumps to 22 for the week of 13 September and then climbs to 28 during the week of 20 September, through the end of the season on 30 October.

Each slot can be used for one takeoff or landing, so a round-trip itinerary requires a pair of them.

It remains to be seen if these slots are permanent, or just allocated temporarily during the demand downturn and associated usage waivers due to the pandemic. Airlines that fly to LHR have been granted relief from the “use-it-or-lose-it” clause that typically requires a slot to be used 80% of the time, or else it’s forfeited.

According to JetBlue, however, no decision has been made yet as to which London airport(s) it’ll fly to, as it explained in a statement.

We are confident that we have a viable path into more than one London airport. JetBlue has applied for multiple slots at various London airports and remains committed to launching service in 2021. We continue to review opportunities available to us and will share more details as this process advances.

JetBlue’s new Mint Studio will be the carrier’s top biz product (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Per ACL filings, JetBlue also holds 270 slots to fly to London Gatwick (LGW), a far less popular airport for flyers headed to the city centre. The carrier has relinquished the slots it was awarded at the Stansted (STN) airport according to the latest data.

Related: The hottest new airline route of 2021 draws a ton of speculation

Either way, the carrier now has an “in” at London Heathrow, and that’s big news for the airline that’s looking to disrupt the existing transatlantic market.

In recent weeks, JetBlue added multiple references to LHR on its website and route map, leading to speculation among aviation observers that an official announcement was imminent. The carrier chalked it up to “periodic IT testing.”

Getting slots at Heathrow has proven challenging for JetBlue. The carrier recently filed a complaint with the Department of Transporation, in which it mentions “slot uncertainty in the U.K.” is causing the airline to be “locked out” of London airports.

Only time will tell JetBlue’s exact London plans. The carrier could theoretically split its operations, flying to both Gatwick and Heathrow.

One thing is for certain, though. JetBlue will deploy a brand-new Airbus A321LR on its transatlantic routes. In fact, TPG recently got a first-look tour of the new Mint business-class cabin that’ll debut on the carrier’s latest jet.

Featured photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy

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