We had to see this one coming. JetBlue sort of runs the Southwest model with low-cost fares and pleasant service, but with the growth of Mint and the addition of new routes one would think JetBlue is looking to expand into deeper parts of South America and Europe. This notion was confirmed by JetBlue CEO Robin Hayes in a July earnings call.
With popular destinations in South America and Europe largely outside of Airbus A320/321 range from JFK, JetBlue may be looking to wide-bodies to fill these routes instead of the A321LR, which has an advertised range of 4,000 nautical miles.
According to David Clark, JetBlue’s VP for Network Planning, via Skift:
“I think we are open to just about everything,” Clark said. “If you look ahead to our fleet needs, it’s not only long range flying, but also for other growth. Eventually, we are going to be retiring A320s. I think we are pretty open to what the best tool is to support our vision.”
The Airbus A321LR is widely compared to the 757 with its extended range, yet it’s not totally extraordinary in terms of size/fuel cost. A problem with the A321LR is that route possibilities will be limited due to the aircraft’s 4,000 nautical mile range.
Additionally, you’d have to think JetBlue’s trans-Atlantic routes would be very popular due to its seemingly unparalleled service and amenities, especially with Mint. This translates to a capacity/fleet problem in that you have to commit to a particular aircraft type that will be able to serve all of your needs. It might be more cost effective to purchase longer range aircraft, this way if you want to broaden your network you won’t need to invest in a new fleet to do so.
My opinion? Go with the Airbus A350 or A330. Getting any type of Boeing aircraft won’t do JetBlue any favors in the pilot training/succession department. If you have an Airbus product you can promote and train from within as many JetBlue pilots are already used to the side stick and Airbus features.