With free tickets and a major expansion of its first-class services, JetBlue has a plan to win over Virgin America customers.
JetBlue may have lost out on acquiring Virgin America to Alaska Airlines last week, but the low-cost carrier isn’t out of the game yet. Instead, it now sees Alaska Airlines’ acquisition of Virgin America as something of a silver lining.
Speaking to Business Insider, JetBlue executive vice president Marty St. George said, “Had we ended up with Virgin America, we would have worked very hard to retain their customers. Now we have an equally exciting opportunity to attract those same customers.”
While JetBlue is a known quantity on the Eastern seaboard, the same cannot be said of it on the West Coast. St. George admitted that “People on the East Coast understand what we are all about. But the West Coast is still figuring us out.”
So, in an effort to introduce itself to new passengers, JetBlue has launched its “Calling all JetBlue Virgins” campaign. This will see the company give away tickets to 500 newbie passengers.
According to Harley Manning, vice president of Forrester Research, it shouldn’t be hard for JetBlue to attract would-be Virgin America customers.
“The Virgin America experience is much closer to the JetBlue experience than it is to the Alaska Airlines experience,” he said.
However, when it comes to the Alaska Airlines’ acquisition of Virgin America, analysts believe that there are differences in how these two carriers present themselves. This could make it difficult for the two brands to satisfy both sets of customers.
Some industry insiders even believe that Virgin America will only be in existence for the next year or so.
To this end, JetBlue announced earlier this week that it is expanding its Mint first-class service from hubs in Fort Lauderdale, Boston and New York to serve a number of West Coast destinations. Cities to be served include Los Angeles, Las Vegas and San Diego as well as Alaska’s Seattle hub and Virgin America’s San Francisco base.
Speaking of the announcement, St. George explained, “With Virgin America and Alaska Airlines merging, choice in the market is shrinking. We are taking advantage of this opportunity to fill that void.”
[Screengrab via JetBlue]