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United kicks off largest transatlantic expansion in its history

United Airlines has kicked off the launch of its largest transatlantic expansion in its history, in anticipation of a strong recovery in European travel.

Patrick Quayle: We have long anticipated a strong demand recovery

In total, United will launch or resume 30 transatlantic flights from mid-April to early June. This includes adding new nonstop flights to five destinations no other North American airline serves including Amman, Jordan; Bergen, Norway; Azores, Portugal; Palma de Mallorca, Spain and Tenerife in the Spanish Canary Islands.

The airline is also launching five new nonstop flights to some of Europe’s most popular business and tourist hubs including London, Milan, Zurich, Munich and Nice. United is also resuming fourteen Atlantic routes the airline has historically served and adding frequencies in six others.

United’s transatlantic route network will be more than 25% larger than it was in 2019.

With this expansion, United will serve more transatlantic destinations than every other U.S. carrier combined and will be the largest airline across the Atlantic for the first time in history.

Patrick Quayle, senior vice president of international network and alliances at United said,

We have long anticipated a strong demand recovery, evidenced by our large, strategic expansion in Europe, and with these new flights, we’re proud to offer our customers more options and access than ever before. United continues to leverage its leading global network in new and exciting ways to help our customers make meaningful memories and experience new cultures around the world.

In light of the increased demand for European travel, United is also launching new services to some of Europe’s most iconic cities, including:

  • New daily flights between Boston and London Heathrow, which began on 14 April, and is United’s only trans-oceanic point-to-point flight from Boston. This flight complements United’s nonstop service to London Heathrow from all seven of United’s hubs.
  • New daily flights between Denver and Munich, which began April 23 and joins existing service from Denver to Frankfurt and London. United is the only U.S. airline to offer transatlantic service from Denver.
  • New daily flights between Chicago and Zurich, which began April 23. United now offers more nonstop service between Switzerland and the U.S. than any other U.S. airline, and is the only U.S. airline with nonstop service to Geneva.
  • New daily flights between New York/Newark and Nice, beginning April 29. United will offer more premium seats to Nice than any other U.S. carrier.
  • New daily flights between Chicago and Milan, beginning May 6, joining existing seasonal flights between Chicago and Rome. United will be the only airline to offer nonstop service between Chicago and Milan, adding to its existing service between New York/Newark and Milan.

In addition to these new flights, United is increasing service to popular European travel destinations, including:

  • Second daily flights between New York/Newark and Dublin, which began 23 April.
  • Second daily flights between Denver and London Heathrow, beginning 7 May.
  • Second daily flight between New York/Newark and Frankfurt, beginning 26 May.
  • Second flight between New York/Newark and Rome five times weekly, beginning 27 May.
  • Adding a third daily flight between San Francisco and London Heathrow and increasing service between New York/Newark and London Heathrow to seven daily flights, beginning 28 May. With this additional service, United will offer 22 daily nonstop flights from the U.S. to London Heathrow.

To help generate excitement about these new routes, earlier this month United launched two unique out of home campaigns, including digital billboards in downtown Boston to highlight the airline’s new Boston-London Heathrow service. United also teamed up with Saks Fifth Avenue for a series of window displays featuring fashion inspired by United’s five unique transatlantic routes.

In addition to these European routes, United is also growing its presence in Africa as part of this transatlantic expansion. On 8 May, United will increase its service to offer daily flights between Washington/Dulles and Accra, Ghana. The airline will also extend its existing seasonal service to Cape Town to year-round, with nonstop flights from New York/Newark resuming 5 June, subject to government approval.

JetBlue to launch services from London to Boston and New York

JetBlue has announced it intends to launch multiple daily flights from New York and Boston to London in 2021.

The new routes, which will be served by Airbus A321LR single-aisle aircraft, will mark the first-ever transatlantic service offered by the award-winning airline.

Joanna Geraghty, president and chief operating officer of JetBlue, explained how the airline came to the decision to start services to London:

Twenty years ago, our founders had a simple formula for choosing a new market – it had to be overpriced, underserved, or both.

London is the largest metro area JetBlue doesn’t yet serve from both Boston and New York, and we could not be more thrilled to be changing that in the years ahead.

The fares being charged today by airlines on these routes, specifically on the premium end, are enough to make you blush.

Known in the U.S. for having the most legroom in economy, live television at every seat, free Wi-Fi internet, complimentary snacks and soft drinks, and great customer service, JetBlue’s entrance into the transatlantic market should introduce a new era of customer-focused, low-fare travel for both business and leisure travellers. The airline’s Mint premium experience, which disrupted transcontinental travel in the U.S. with accessible fares and a thoughtful reinvention of the business class cabin, promises to offer transatlantic customers a fresh choice.

Some of JetBlue’s 22,000 crewmembers

Growth into Europe seems to be the next natural step in JetBlue’s focus city expansion strategy. The new service will strengthen JetBlue’s relevance in its two largest focus cities while also answering calls from loyal business and leisure customers who have, until now, been forced to fly other carriers to and from London.

According to JetBlue, the airline is “developing a reimagined, transatlantic version of its premium Mint product” which will feature more lie-flat seats than currently offered on the airline’s existing A321 aircraft. Transatlantic Mint product features and design elements, combined with JetBlue’s specially trained Mint inflight crewmembers, will “create an intimate and exclusive travel experience”. And, like its transcontinental Mint business model, “JetBlue will offer the elevated flying experience for a fraction of what other airlines are charging today for premium seats”.

JetBlue’s domestic U.S, customers in JetBlue Mint are used to the longest lie-flat seat (6’ 8”) on domestic premium flights, featuring a massage function, adjustable cushions and the only private suite among U.S. airlines.

Joanna Geraghty commented further:

The success Mint has had on driving down the exorbitant airfares that our competitors were charging, stimulating new demand, and forcing the entrenched carriers to up their game, is a big reason we believe London is the next natural market for JetBlue to be successful and make a positive impact on consumers.

JetBlue will initially convert 13 aircraft in its existing Airbus A321 order book to the LR version with the ability to convert more. The A321LR will allow JetBlue to tap into new long-haul markets that were not previously accessible with its current single-aisle aircraft.


JetBlue is converting its orders of Airbus A321 to the longer-range A321LR.

Commenting on the new JetBlue relationship, Airbus Chief Commercial Officer, Christian Scherer said:

JetBlue has pioneered new travel possibilities for their customers for years,” said Christian Scherer, Airbus Chief Commercial Officer. “All of us at Airbus are honoured to provide the strategic aircraft platform to enable this next chapter in the story of our partners at JetBlue.

Today, JetBlue serves nearly two dozen countries. The airline has been flying internationally for nearly fifteen years with a significant portion of its operations in the Caribbean and Latin America with flights reaching as far south as Ecuador and Peru.

Paul Baker, Sales Director of Global Travel Management commented:

Jetblue’s entry to the transatantic market will be a boost for UK-based companies doing business in New York or Boston.  They will bring a fresh approach to the market and we look forward to making their offer available to our clients.

JetBlue will be a new name to many businesses in the UK, but, at GTM, we have years of experience with the airline: they’re one of the best-known airline brands in the United States. They make more than 1,000 flights a day, to more than 100 destinations, serving 42 million passengers annually. We book passengers on JetBlue flights very frequently and we have done for years. More competition on transatlantic routes will be of great benefit to our clients. 

GTM’s clients will benefit not just from the new service from London to Boston and New York, but also to JetBlue’s extensive onward network connections.

We will be able to pass on more information about these services – including prices and London airport details – when they become available.