JetBlue Airways executives think the carrier could "disrupt" air travel between the U.S. and Europe by offering business class service across the Atlantic.
The New York-based airline has been mulling trans-Atlantic service for more than two years. It already has flights to Latin America and the Caribbean, but not to Europe.
The airline hasn't made any decision yet, but business class would likely be key to its strategy, said Joanna Geraghty, JetBlue's president and COO at the Skift Global Forum, a travel-industry conference that was held in New York on Thursday.
Low-cost carriers like Iceland's WOW Air, Norwegian and others have expanded rapidly in the trans-Atlantic market in recent years, offering eye-catching, sub-$100 fares and fees for everything else, such as cabin baggage and seat assignments.
But JetBlue appears interested in taking on full-service airlines that offer business class across the Atlantic. JetBlue's Mint business class offers lie-flat seats and suites with doors and higher-end food than the coach-class cabins where the airline sells meals.
"When we think about trans-Atlantic, we do think we can disrupt largely around a Mint-like product because we've been so successful on flying to the West Coast with Mint," Geraghty said. A long-range variant of the Airbus A321 plane could do the job to Europe but JetBlue is weighing where to best deploy its fleet.
Samuel Engel, who heads the aviation practice at consulting firm ICF, said JetBlue already has a "compelling offer" for business travelers, unlike most new entrants to the market.
"Don't expect the incumbents to take JetBlue's European holiday peacefully," he said.
Mint's fares vary depending on demand, but a round-trip ticket in JetBlue's Mint cabin between New York and Los Angeles in mid-October was selling for about $2,400 on JetBlue's website on Thursday and a business-class ticket on American Airlines for the same dates was about $4,700 on American's site.