UK-US aviation: new entrants for North Atlantic's biggest market

Premium Analysis

The UK-US aviation market is comfortably the biggest on the North Atlantic and has always attracted more competitors. This reflects historic ties of language and culture, the UK's relative geographical proximity to the US relative to other large European nations, and a strong business traveller market.

Four airlines have left UK-US since 2019, most notably Norwegian Air, leaving a gap at the more price sensitive end of the market. Price sensitivity may emerge from the pandemic with increased importance.

Three airlines are now lining up to enter this segment: Aer Lingus and JetBlue this summer, followed by the new-start Norse Atlantic in late 2021 to take on Norwegian's low cost long haul mantle.

IAG regards Aer Lingus as its long haul value operator. The airline's deployment on UK-US routes, in preference to BA, increases the group's options on the Atlantic. JetBlue has eyed this market for a long time, but only now does it have the long range narrowbodies to make it happen (plus slots at multiple London airports, including Heathrow).

Both Aer Lingus and JetBlue appear to have advantages over a 'son of Norwegian' model in brand, feed, partnerships and premium product/services.

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