For the first time since the arrival of its current generation Airbus A321s, JetBlue Airways has taken delivery of a new aircraft, the Airbus A321neo. A fuel efficient and extended ranged version of the popular narrowbody aircraft, the A321neo is the first next-generation aircraft to enter JetBlue’s fleet with plans to serve some of the airline’s longest routes with the goal of making them economical and efficient.
The first all-economy A321neo arrived at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport from the Airbus facility at Hamburg’s Finkenwerder Airport on a sunny Saturday afternoon following a near-eight-hour transatlantic hop. Currently, the airport sees but a few A321neos, most notably Alaska Airlines’ A321neo acquired in the merger with Virgin America, but that will soon change as JetBlue continues to take delivery of the type and begins operations this summer.
Passing by its new colleagues at Terminal 5 after touching down on JFK’s Runway 22R, the new plane taxied over to the terminal’s international gates so its crew could clear customs while the aircraft was refueled for the flight to Lake City, Fla. where the aircraft will be fitted with its interior. In town just long enough for a quick hello, it’s still unknown when the aircraft will come back to its New York base.
Plane spotters at “The Mounds,” a small grassy area near a public school with unobstructed views of the landing aircraft, were expecting an arrival on Runway 22L, were eagerly awaiting the aircraft’s arrival; though, were disappointed to find that it would be landing on the parallel runway, 22R, as the sun would provide too much backlight for clear photos. However, as the aircraft emerged from over the trees and the silent roar of their shutters clicked, their fears were quickly assuaged realizing that the sun had not ruined their shots.
JetBlue’s first A321neo would be nearly identical to its sister A321s already flying for JetBlue except for two main differences, the engines and the tail. The A321neo is powered by the larger Pratt & Whitney GTF engines while the current generation A321s in JetBlue’s fleet are powered by International Aero Engines (IAE) V2500.
— Ryan Ewing (@FlyingHighRyan) June 29, 2019
On the tail, JetBlue is also unveiling its latest design that brings JetBlue back to its blue roots. While JetBlue had introduced green on its “prism” livery found on all the current A321s, the A321neo tail will be all blue, albeit different shades, with numerous half circles comprising the design.
While JetBlue has announced the aircraft will enter service this summer, it is still unknown which routes will receive the aircraft. As it is in an all-economy configuration, it’s unlikely that any current Mint routes such as New York-Los Angeles or San Francisco will get the aircraft. However, it’s likely that the airline’s Florida routes will see the aircraft sooner rather than later as the current A321s did when the airline first debuted them.
Three routes that will certainly see the new aircraft are the New York-Guayaquil, New York to London and Boston to London routes. The new aircraft will serve these future routes as the efficiency of the new aircraft makes them possible and feasible for the airline. The latter two, however, will likely not see this particular aircraft as European service is expected to feature a premium cabin.
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