The Atlantic Update – Wednesday 12 September 2018

The Atlantic Update is published every Wednesday morning at 06:00 BST, providing a weekly bulletin on developments on transatlantic travel between Europe and North America.

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Hurricane Florence
Hurricane Florence (Image Credit: CNN)

Hello and welcome to the The Atlantic Update for Wednesday 12 September 2018, our weekly bulletin on transatlantic travel between Europe and North America.

Hurricane Florence

In the US at the moment, all eyes are on Hurricane Florence as it approaches the coasts of North and South Carolina.

It is currently a Category 4 hurricane with wind speeds expected to reach 150 mph. The states of North Carolina and South Carolina have issued mandatory evacuation orders for many coastal counties. Tropical storm force winds are expected to reach the East Coast by Thursday morning.

Airports across North and South Carolina and some airports in Virginia and Georgia are at risk of disruption.

These include: Asheville, North Carolina; Augusta, Georgia; Charleston, South Carolina; Charlotte, North Carolina; Charlottesville, Virginia; Columbia, South Carolina; Fayetteville, North Carolina; Florence, South Carolina; Greensboro / High Point, North Carolina; Greenville / Spartanburg, South Carolina; Greenville, North Carolina; Hampton / Newport News, Virginia; Hilton Head, South Carolina; Jacksonville, North Carolina; Lynchburg, Virginia; Myrtle Beach, South Carolina; New Bern, North Carolina; Norfolk, Virginia; Raleigh / Durham, North Carolina; Richmond, Virginia; Roanoke, Virginia; Savannah, Georgia; and Wilmington, North Carolina.

American Airlines, Delta, United and many other North American Airlines have issued a weather waivers for passengers due to travel to/from the region over the next few days. Some airlines have also waived baggage fees and introduced capped fares for select domestic fights.

In the UK, British Airways and Virgin Atlantic are allowing passengers due to travel to the region to defer travel up to Wednesday 19 September 2018.

Both BA and Virgin Atlantic have this morning extended their flexible rebooking policy to Washington Dulles. BA is also allowing passengers due to fly to Baltimore to rebook.

Although there are no cancellations at present, American Airlines flights between London Heathrow and Charlotte and Raleigh / Durham may be at risk of disruption.

Updates are also available from the National Weather Service.

The National Hurricane Center is also monitoring Tropical Storm Isaac which is currently moving west across the Atlantic to the Caribbean and Hurricane Helene which is moving north west across the Atlantic.

JetBlue’s European Ambitions

Robin Hayes, CEO of JetBlue, spoke at the Aviation Festival in London last week.

He spoke once again of JetBlue’s ambitions to launch transatlantic flights to Europe, specifically from Boston to London. In the absence of competition remedy slots or a third runway at Heathrow, the most likely option will be Gatwick.

Unlike Norwegian, which has primarily targeted low cost long-haul travel, JetBlue has its sights on capturing premium traffic. It cites high last minute premium fares on legacy airlines.

JetBlue has many assets that could work in its favour. Its highly regarded Mint premium cabin featuring fully flat beds on select transcontinental routes has won many plaudits. It has a strong brand and distribution network in the US.

However, if JetBlue wants to compete against American, BA, Delta and Virgin it will need competitive frequencies to secure corporate contracts. It will also need to lure those passengers welded to their European frequent flyer accounts. History has also shown that premium traffic has pivoted towards Heathrow over Gatwick. After the EU-US transatlantic market was liberalised in 2008, all legacy US airlines transferred their operations from Gatwick to Heathrow, some at very considerable expense.

It should be noted that JetBlue anticipates launching long-haul flights with the long-range variant of the Airbus A321. Whilst it has a large number of Airbus A321 aircraft on order, it has yet to convert these to the long-range version. So, for now, the launch of transatlantic routes remains a theoretical possibility.

Late Post-Publication Updates

[Reserved for updates during the day.]

Aer Lingus has confirmed it is to launch two new transatlantic routes from Dublin next summer. It will fly daily to Minneapolis and Montreal from 8 July and 8 August 2019 respectively. Flights will be operated using Airbus A321 neo Long Range aircraft.

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