After recently hinting that it is planning to expand in Europe beyond its existing routes to London, JetBlue Airways made it official on Wednesday when it announced that it will be adding new service to Paris in summer 2023. The goal, according to JetBlue, is to introduce lower fares than the competition for the transatlantic market—without sacrificing service.
“JetBlue will play a unique role in disrupting high-fare legacy carriers that have used joint ventures and global alliances to dominate these routes for decades,” JetBlue said in a statement about the new Paris offering.
All the “big 3” U.S. airlines have formal partnerships with European carriers to provide more seamless connections between the continents. American Airlines is part of the oneworld Alliance, which includes British Airways, and Delta Air Lines is partnered with Air France, KLM, and Virgin Atlantic for transatlantic flights. United Airlines is part of the Star Alliance network, which includes the airlines Lufthansa, Austrian, and TAP Air Portugal.
Starting in summer 2023, JetBlue will be strengthening its efforts to compete with them when it launches nonstop service between New York City’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) and Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG), after which it will add nonstop service between Boston Logan International Airport (BOS) and CDG—although no timeframe has been provided for the Boston flights. JetBlue said that seats for the Paris flights will be made available for booking “in the coming months.”
JetBlue first entered the transatlantic market in August of 2021 when it snapped up slots at London Heathrow that had temporarily opened up as travel halted during the pandemic. This past summer, the airline successfully sought permission to make the slots more permanent. And on October 29, JetBlue added a second daily flight between New York’s JFK and London Gatwick (where it started service later in 2021), bringing the number of frequencies between New York and London to three flights per day. JetBlue flights from Boston to Gatwick kicked off in August, followed by Boston to Heathrow flights in September.
The carrier is crossing the Atlantic using a fleet of Airbus A321 LR (long-range) planes, narrow-body aircraft that can fly longer and farther than previous iterations of the model. For transatlantic flights, the planes are configured with 114 coach seats, some with extra legroom and an expanded 24-seat Mint premium class—JetBlue’s version of business class with lie-flat seats—including two rows of “Mint Studio” seating, featuring 22-inch TVs, added storage, and a seat and table for a guest. Next year, the airline will begin taking delivery of the very latest version, the A321 XLR, which, as the moniker suggests, can fly even farther nonstop—up to about 5,400 miles, or 1,000 miles more than the 737 and other single-aisle models.
JetBlue prides itself on offering some unique onboard amenities such as free, unlimited, high-speed Wi-Fi on all flights, a promise that extends to international service. In addition, the carrier’s aircraft feature seatback screens that stream live TV and movies. And when it comes to food, JetBlue aims to impress with a partnership forged with New York–based farm-to-table, vegetable-forward restaurant group Dig to create seasonal menus for all classes of service. A “pantry” on JetBlue flights offers up complimentary self-serve snacks.
While JetBlue might be one of the most recognized low-cost carriers crossing the pond from the United States, it certainly isn’t alone in the burgeoning travel segment. Several newer players have recently entered the low-cost long-haul market, including France-based French bee; Level, the Spanish low-fare unit of IAG (parent of British Air, Aer Lingus, and Iberia); Play, the reincarnation of Icelandic carrier Wow; and Norse Atlantic Airways, a resurrection of the former Norwegian Air. With international airfares giving many travelers sticker shock this year, these lower-priced options offer hope for more affordable transatlantic travels.
Barbara Peterson contributed reporting.