See inside jetBlue's first plane to fly from Gatwick Airport to New York and why the airline's president is so excited to be back in Sussex
jetBlue launched their first ever flight from Gatwick Airport tooday.
The 12noon flight to New York was a landmark moment for the US-based airline and for Gatwick Airport as the aviation industry looks to get back on it's feet after the pandemic. You can see our Facebook live from the launch here
And it was a special moment for jetBlue's president and chief operating officer Joanna Geraghty, who was returning to Gatwick for the first time since she arrived in England in 1992 to do a year at the University of Sussex studying social sciences.
She told the Crawley Observer: "1992 to 1993 was the most fun year of my life. I lived in temporary housing at the University of Sussex. I studied social sciences.".
jetBlue's arrival will be a boost for the aiiport and the local economy and will be creating new jobs.
Mrs Geraghty said: "If you think about the multiplier effect of an airline when it comes into a community.
"We bring tourists we bring more travel but we bring business partners, people we employ directly whether is maintenance bag handlers, catering cleaners and the people we have here. So in terms of growth it’s great and in terms of the effect it has on the local economy."
The US travel corridor reopens to UK citizens in November and the airline has already seen a boost in bookings.
Mrs Geragthy said: "If you look at what we experienced in the United States in the summer as travel restrictions lifted there was an incredible surge of demand and I think that is going to happen here. We are very pleased with the development of the reopening of the UK. The US travel corridor, the day that was announced it was reopening bookings went up 500 fold we are very excited.
"We are looking forward to connecting people with their families who haven't been able to travel for an amount of time - this has been a great opportunity for us in the midst of in what has been a difficult time for everyone."
Gatwick's chief commercial officer Jonathan Pollard was equally excited about jetBlue launching at the airport. "We have been incredibly excited about this launch for quite some time," he said.
"They revealed the product back in March and ever since we have been desperate to see it here at Gatwick. It’s a brand new aircraft and a really nice cabin for economy and business passengers.
"The last18 months have been incredibly difficult for the airport and the wider aviation industry but this feels like a catalyst moment as part of the recovery.
"We have been starting to see some of the green shoots over recent weeks, but to have our first long haul airline since the pandemic began and it’s a real good step forward for the business."
And on the US corridor reopening, Mr Pollard said: "It’s a huge thing. It's something ourselves and other big companies have been pushing for and indeed on the US side. The fact that it has been eased is good. We still think they can go further with the relaxing those restrictions. But our focus is enjoying the launch today and seeing the passengers get on board and enjoy what is a fantastic product."