Thursday 23 May was an exciting day for Edinburgh and Scotland as JetBlue touched down in the country for the first time after making its way overnight from New York’s JFK, writes Daniel Ross.

Neither low-cost nor full service carrier, New York-headquartered JetBlue prides itself on offering an excellent in-flight experience for great value fares.

Edinburgh was the 5th and final of the first round of European destinations to be added to JetBlue’s international network. The bold carrier started its foray across The Pond in August 2021 with its first flights to London where it now serves both Gatwick and Heathrow with nonstop flights from Boston and JFK.

Next up to welcome JetBlue were Paris and Amsterdam in 2023, before Dublin and Edinburgh completed the set in Q1 of 2024.

So, what’s next for JetBlue’s transatlantic route map?

Warren Christie, COO at JetBlue, carved out some time in his busy inaugural route day schedule in Edinburgh to speak with journalists who were all eager to learn more about where JetBlue’s jets could be heading next.

JetBlue also flies nonstop from Boston to Amsterdam, Dublin, London, and Paris which, according to Christie, could also be a possibility for Edinburgh depending on the success of New York.

While Christie kept his cards close to his chest about the exact location of new destinations in Europe, he did tease that we could “possibly” expect these to be launched next year (2025).

When asked whether more U.K. cities like Birmingham, Glasgow, or Manchester could be in contention, he didn’t rule it out: “I think there are other U.K. destinations that are potentially in scope,” alluded Christie.

Given the 3,500-nautical-mile range of JetBlue’s Airbus A321LRs that operate its transatlantic routes, destinations that would also have enough demand to merit a nonstop JetBlue route to New York are few and far between.

Once such a destination that could be high on JetBlue’s list would be the ever-popular tourist city of Lisbon which is less than 3,000 nautical miles from New York.

Other possibilities include Madrid which is less of a distance than both Amsterdam and Paris, as well as Barcelona, which at 3,329, could be pushing the aircraft’s limits.

The popular tourist destination of Marrakech, Morocco, would also be in range for the Airbus A321LR. However, it’s unlikely there’d be enough demand in both directions for this to be a profitable route for JetBlue.

However, the key to unlocking more European destinations is inextricably connected with fleet capacity.

“We need more aircraft to fly more routes,” said Christie.

In total, JetBlue ordered 13 Airbus A321LRs and took delivery of number 8 on the same day as its inaugural Edinburgh service.

Like many airlines with aircraft on order with either of the big 2 manufacturers Airbus and Boeing, Christie confirmed that JetBlue has indeed been affected by delivery delays but “we’re managing through that,” confirmed Christie.

To be able to fly passengers to other major European cities and capitals like Rome, Milan, Munich, Stockholm, and Zurich, JetBlue would need aircraft with longer range.

Such routes could become a reality for JetBlue when it starts to receive its order of 13 Airbus A321XLRs. These jets have a range of up to 4,700 nautical miles and are likely to join JetBlue’s fleet in the second half of 2025.

“The A321LXR does give us the option to go deeper into Europe,” said Christie.

With an extended range of around 34%, the Airbus A321XLR would bring cities in southeastern Europe such as Athens or even Istanbul into contention.

Even with the range, JetBlue would have to be certain there’d be enough demand to invest in the launch of a route and more off-the-beaten track cities like Athens and Istanbul would likely fall short of the threshold of success.

When questioned about the configuration of the XLRs, Christie said it would have the same number of seats in Core (economy) and Mint (business class) as the current Airbus A321LRs.

While the wheres and whens of JetBlue’s next European route expansion are yet to be confirmed, JetBlue is absolutely certain it has what it takes to take on the transatlantic marke thanks to the experience it offers its passengers.

“Changing the product and what we offer is what we’re considering changing,” said Christie. “We think that’s what makes us different from the competition, and we believe that’s a space that we can win.”
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