Monday marked a big day for JetBlue Airways (JBLU -0.95%). Not only did the airline announce expanded service to London — and that it had received permanent slots at Heathrow Airport — JetBlue also increased its bid for Spirit Airlines (SAVE 2.52%).
JetBlue’s European expansion and its effort to acquire Spirit represent two prongs of a strategy to become a serious rival to the biggest U.S. airlines. However, JetBlue may be getting too ambitious for its own good. Let’s take a look.
Moving forward in Europe
JetBlue entered the transatlantic market last August with a single daily flight from New York to London’s Heathrow Airport, using temporary slots at Heathrow that became available because of the COVID-19 pandemic. A month later, JetBlue added service to Gatwick Airport (the second-busiest London airport). This April, JetBlue confirmed that it would begin flying from Boston to both London airports later this year, giving it four daily roundtrips between the U.S. and London.
This week, JetBlue said that it will add a second daily flight between New York and Gatwick Airport in late October. Even more importantly, the airline revealed that it has secured permanent slots at Heathrow, ensuring that it can continue operating at least one daily flight to the region’s top airport beyond 2023.
Including the new flight announced on Monday, JetBlue now expects to operate five daily roundtrips to London this fall. Furthermore, CEO Robin Hayes anticipates the airline entering continental Europe next year with new flights to Paris.
Europe could eventually become a lucrative market for JetBlue. But for now, its limited schedule split between two London airports likely won’t appeal to most business travelers. From New York in particular, JetBlue’s London flights are poorly timed for business travel. While JetBlue could still find success with wealthy leisure travelers, missing out on the business market will limit…