If you want to drive a car, you need a license. If you wish to take your operation to the skies, you’ll need quite a few of them. That’s particularly true if you wish to fly across borders. For weeks, JetBlue has allowed rumours of potential new flight services to Europe to gain major media traction, after an invite using the London tube as a background surfaced online. There’s just one thing: with that big New York reveal scheduled for this afternoon, the airline still hasn’t actually applied to fly into the United Kingdom.
“A non-European based airline wishing to operate services to the UK would need to apply for a foreign carriers permit. At present, the UK Civil Aviation Authority has not received an application from JetBlue.”
For a variety of reasons, including the awaited delivery of aircraft actually capable of flying the route for JetBlue, it’s highly likely that the airline wouldn’t be starting service anytime soon. Yet at the same time, it would seem highly irregular for a corporation to announce “confirmed” plans to launch a major transatlantic service without securing even the most basic of carrier permissions.
To the best of our understanding, foreign carrier permits can take many months and require quite a bit of coordination. In addition to foreign carrier permits, agreements with ground handlers, customs and border protection services and other essential flight operations would seem logical, yet at this point it does not appear that any of those conversations have taken place either
If JetBlue is to announce London service today at 3PM EST, which happens to be dinner time in the United Kingdom, they would be doing so without any official licensing to do so.
It’s hard to imagine a situation where that would make much sense. It’s widely expected that the dynamic US carrier would seek to use its new Airbus A321LR aircraft orders to operate initial services to London Gatwick or London Stansted, in lieu of acquiring an extremely expensive Heathrow slot.
While the airline has remained coy on particulars, it’s long hinted at a desire to borrow an overused term from the tech world and “disrupt” the business class market between New York and London, in which extreme premiums are often charged. For now, they might want to file some paper, before they try to fly some planes.