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 build on its recent success with flights from the US to the UK. The new flights will bring travelers to mainland Europe’s most popular city next summer. With 75 million visitors, France is also the most visited country in the world.

For JetBlue, an opportunity to disrupt the legacy carriers’ transatlantic operations and steal some of their customers wouldn’t hurt. But with hundreds of flights canceled and thousands of passengers stranded, is it enough to pull the airline and its stock (JBLU) out of the recession?

JetBlue will begin direct service between New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) and Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG) in the summer of 2023. Information is available at www.jetblue.com/paris. The airline will add direct 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 London services in August 2021. Using Airbus A321LR (long-range) twin jets, the airline now operates five daily flights between the United States and 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 from the airline’s “focus cities”, New York and Boston. Epirus-ticketed JetBlue A321LRs have 24 Mint suites and about 115 generally well-rated Core or economy seats with decent legroom. All passengers get live TV and on-demand entertainment at every seatback and free Fly-Fi broadband internet.

Paris will be JetBlue’s second transatlantic destination in the summer of 2023, although specific start dates have not yet been announced. The airline listened to its competition, saying that with services to both London and Paris, “JetBlue will play a unique role in disrupting the legacy high-fare carriers that have used joint ventures and global alliances to dominate these routes for decades”.

Meanwhile, airlines made a big comeback in North America this summer. Air carriers saw a 110.4% increase in traffic in August compared to the 2021 period, according to the International Air Traffic Association (IATA). Capacity increased by 69.7% and load factor increased by 16.9 percentage points to 87.2%, which was the highest among the world’s 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 fell 0.33 to 7.92, a loss of -4.00%. It closed the week at 7.86.

The airline is trading near its 52-week low of 6.21 – 16.39. Like most of his peers, he has been languishing for months.

Will a handful of planes flying to London and Paris this summer be enough to change JetBlue’s fortunes? Maybe not, but high visibility flights will definitely “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, the Caribbean and Canada.

JetBlue is currently the sixth largest airline in the United States. A wild card is whether US regulators will approve the company’s purchase of Spirit Airlines. The $3.8 billion deal will expand its fleet and route network and jump JetBlue to 5th place among US airlines. Spirit shareholders approved the merger, but lawsuits have been filed by passengers and flight attendants worried about losing one of America’s last low-cost airlines, Spirit.

Still, JetBlue is excited about its second foray into Epirus.

“JetBlue offers something completely unique to what you get from major global legacy airlines on these routes – where a single high-fare consortium operates nearly three-quarters of the flights,” said Robin Hayes, JetBlue’s CEO. “The response to our London service is proof that combining great service with low fares works. We look forward to bringing the redesigned mint and our core offerings to the most visited city in continental Europe.”

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