JetBlue Airways chief executive Robin Hayes says the airline will make a decision on the Airbus A321LR in 2019, almost three years after it took up the option of converting some deliveries to the long-range variant.
Hayes says in a New Year's message to JetBlue employees: "In 2019 we will announce our decision on the long range version of the A321. This aircraft could open up new and exciting markets for us."
Hayes' letter was first reported by aviation news website PaxEx.Aero.
A JetBlue spokesperson says: "We have not committed to the LR, or to adding Europe to our network, but that is certainly an environment that JetBlue competes well in."
She adds that JetBlue continues to have the option to take delivery of the A321LR.
JetBlue added that option in July 2016, when it announced an order for 30 additional A321s split evenly between the A321neo and A321ceo. The airline's order included the option of switching its A321neo deliveries to the A321LR, beginning in 2019. JetBlue has an order for 85 A321neos, Flight Fleets Analyzer shows.
While JetBlue previously held a fleet review that was subsequently extended into 2018, the year ended without the airline committing to a decision on the A321LR.
The New York-based carrier has repeatedly flirted with the idea of launching transatlantic service to Europe from its focus cities in Boston and New York, citing the high fare environment in that market. London is the largest destination from Boston that JetBlue currently does not serve, says JetBlue's spokesperson.
But Hayes has also pointed to other factors that will weigh in JetBlue's decision to add Europe to its network, such as access to competitive slots at airports including London Heathrow.
In a November 2018 speech, Hayes said: "We have to offer competitive schedules at airports like Heathrow when people will want to fly. We continue to work on that."
JetBlue will take delivery of its first A321neo this year. It will add 13 of the type - the only variant it is taking - in 2019, according to its fleet plan. In 2020, it will add another 15 A321neos as well as its first five Airbus A220s.