The Atlantic Update – Wednesday 6 March 2019

A weekly bulletin on transatlantic travel, published every Wednesday at 06:00 GMT.

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Biosphere, Parc Jean-Drapeau, Montreal
Biosphere, Parc Jean-Drapeau, Montreal (Image Credit: London Air Travel)

Welcome to the The Atlantic Update for Wednesday 6 March 2019, our weekly update on transatlantic travel from Europe to North America.

Aer Lingus suspends Dublin – Montreal

Aer Lingus has suspended its planned launch of a new route from Dublin to Montreal this summer.  

The route was due to launch in August and was to be operated with the Airbus A321 Long Range aircraft. It will now launch on an unspecified date next summer.  Aer Lingus has cited delivery delays as the reason.   Aer Lingus will also reduce frequencies on Dublin – Bradley, Minneapolis, and Philadelphia and Shannon – New York JFK in July.  

This will not help IAG’s relationship with Airbus, where Willie Walsh has previously criticised Airbus for delays to the delivery of aircraft.

JetBlue’s European Ambition

It has been known for some time that JetBlue has ambitions to launch transatlantic services to Europe.

Whilst JetBlue has yet to publicly announce an order for Airbus A321 Long Range aircraft which are expected to be used for these routes, interest has piqued in recent months.

JetBlue has made submissions to US regulatory authorities that Air France-KLM, Delta and Virgin Atlantic should forfeit slots at European airports as a condition of operating a combined transatlantic joint-venture. This would provide JetBlue with easy access to slot-restricted airports such as Amsterdam and London Heathrow.

JetBlue has also send invitations for a media event on 10 April which has prompted further speculation.

JetBlue has many attributes its favour. It has a strong presence in Boston and New York. It’s “Mint” premium cabin on select transcontinental routes is well received.

However, long-haul operations are fundamentally different from short-haul. If JetBlue is to use a small dedicated fleet for transatlantic operations, it will need adequate recovery measures in the event of aircraft availability issues. When WestJet first launched transatlantic operations, it suffered significant reputational damage due to reliability issues with its fleet, albeit under different circumstances.

What can also be said with confidence is that JetBlue’s competitors will respond. IAG CEO Willie Walsh said of JetBlue’s plans at its Capital Markets Day last November:

And yes, I would say jetBlue is not a low-cost operator. It’s a good airline, good brand, good quality service. But I don’t think there’s anything there that we should be concerned about. We know how to compete. And we know how to compete with new entrants, existing entrants and pretty much anybody else. So if they do, there’s certainly room for them. And it’s a good market and a growing market that we would see, but it’s not something that would be of any particular concern.

Readers may recall that when the now defunct airline eos launched Stansted – New York JFK, American Airlines also launched a short-lived spoiler service.

Should JetBlue launch London Gatwick – Boston, do not surprised if BA launches a spoiler service, as it did when Norwegian launched Gatwick – New York JFK.

BA Planning More US Routes

On that note, if you were concerned that with the launch of Pittsburgh and Charleston next month, BA had reached a ceiling as far as US routes are concerned, then worry not.

Alex Cruz confirmed in IAG’s annual report which was published yesterday that the airline is actively looking at more US routes. If history is anything to go buy any new routes for Heathrow next year should announced in late July / August.

New York Metrocard

There is a long list of frustrations with the New York Subway.

The condition of the stations, the lack of basic service information on platforms, the incomprehensible announcements. Another is the hideously dated MetroCard swipe card system. You can’t buy MetroCards at all stations. They frequently stop working and when you need help, customer service at stations is close to non-existent.

The Metropolitan Transit Authority is to finally introduce a contactless payment system known as OMNY (One Metro New York) from this May. On the Subway, it will initially operate on the 4, 5 and 6 lines between Grand Central 42 Street and Atlantic Avenue -Barclays Center.

In London, we have of course been used to contactless payment on buses and the Tube for many years. Indeed, so ubiquitous has contactless payment become that many retailers in Central London no longer accept cash.

In case you missed it:

Air France, KLM and Virgin Atlantic start reciprocal transatlantic codeshares – confirmed by press release since original publication. (London Air Travel)

Late Post Publication Updates

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