JetBlue Goes To Paris, But Will Wall Street Care?

JetBlue announced flights to Paris this week. With the flights to the City of Light, the airline seeks to capitalize on its recent success with flights from the U.S. to the UK. The new flights will bring travelers to continental Europe’s most visited city next summer. With 75 million visitors, France is also the world’s most visited country.

For JetBlue, a chance to disrupt the transatlantic business of the legacy carriers,nd steal some of their customers wouldn’t hurt either. But with hundreds of flightscancelled and thousands of passengers stranded, it be enough to pull the airline and its stock (JBLU) out of the financial doldrums?

JetBlue will launch nonstop service between New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) and Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG) in summer 2023. Information is available at www.jetblue.com/paris. The airline will add nonstop service between Boston Logan International Airport (BOS) and Paris-CDG at an unspecified later date.

Paris will be JetBlue’s second transatlantic destination following the airline’s launch of service to London in August 2021. Using the Airbus A321LR (long range) twin jet, the airline now flies five daily flights between the United States and the United Kingdom. JetBlue has 13 A321LR aircraft, with a Pond-crossing range of 4000 nautical miles, in use or on order. The airline has an additional 13 orders for the even longer range A321XLR aircraft.

Flights originate in the airline’s “focus cities” of New York and Boston. The JetBlue A321LRs ticketed for the Continent have 24 lie-flat Mint suites and about 115 generally well-rated Core or economy class seats with decent legroom. All passengers get live television and on-demand entertainment on every seatback and free Fly-Fi broadband internet.

Paris will be JetBlue’s second transatlantic destination in summer 2023, although specific launch dates have not yet been announced. The airline took a swipe at its competition, saying that with service to both London and Paris, “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.”

Meanwhile airlines staged a roaring comeback in North America this summer. The carriers experienced a 110.4% traffic rise in August versus the 2021 period, according to the International Air Traffic Association (IATA.) Capacity rose 69.7%, and load factor climbed 16.9 percentage points to 87.2%, which was the highest among world regions.

Unfortunately, so far high load factors and high-ticket prices have not translated into profitability significant enough to impress Wall Street. On the day of the announcement, JetBlue dropped 0.33 to 7.92 a loss of -4.00%. It closed the week at 7.86.

The airline is trading near the bottom of its 52-week range of 6.21 – 16.39. Like most of its peers, it has been languishing for months.

Will a handful of planes flying to London and Paris this summer be enough to change JetBlue’s fortunes? Perhaps not, but the high visibility flights will certainly ‘show the flag’ for JetBlue. And passengers can connect to and from Europe to the more than 100 destinations JetBlue serves throughout the United States, Latin America, Caribbean, and Canada.

Right now, JetBlue is the sixth largest carrier in the United States. A wild card is whether U.S. regulators will approve the company’s purchase of Spirit Airlines. The $3.8 billion deal would expand its fleet and route network and leapfrog JetBlue into 5th place among American airlines. Spirit’s shareholders have approved the merger, but lawsuits have been filed by passengers and flight attendants concerned with losing one of America’s last low cost airlines, Spirit.

Nonetheless, JetBlue is excited about its second foray to the Continent.

“JetBlue is offering something completely unique to what you get from the big global legacy airlines on these routes – where a single high-fare joint venture operates nearly three-quarters of the flying,” said Robin Hayes, chief executive officer, JetBlue. “The response to our London service is proof that combining great service with low fares works. We can’t wait to bring our reimagined Mint and core offerings to Continental Europe’s most visited city.”

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