American Airlines and JetBlue are coming together as the newest airline partners. The odd couple have been good competitors for years in the New York, Boston, and South Florida markets. Now, during the economic downturn they are putting their differences aside and forming a new bond. The new Northeast partnership will cover codesharing on routes to and from Boston and New York for both airlines. JetBlue’s partnership is following a similar mold as the Alaska partnership. Use a strong local airline for regional flights, and then use your own metal for long haul operations. As American has scaled back drastically in NYC over the last several years, JetBlue’s network opens up new markets for connections and allows AA to grow their TransAtlantic network again.
AA JetBlue Codeshare & Future Growth
JetBlue and American propose a massive Northeast codeshare operation. If approved, the codeshare will add 130 new routes to the AA network. JetBlue customers will gain 60 new routes. In a time of uncertainty for the airlines, more partnerships is a great way to grow an airlines footprint without additional costs.
Scott Laurence, head of revenue and planning, JetBlue claims, “Together we will offer customers better options than either of us could alone. This partnership enables JetBlue to bring our low fares and great service to even more customers by expanding our presence in our hometown, growing relevance in Boston, and supporting our successful Mint franchise.”
Over at American, one of my favorite c-level executives for his push for growth in Seattle recognizes that markets are changing. Airlines are seeing an uptick is leisure focus travel. Business travel will likely remain soft through 2020, if not longer. “Leisure travel is important to our customers, and JetBlue’s network paired with their award-winning service, are the perfect fit,” said Vasu Raja, Chief Revenue Officer at American Airlines. “Both airlines’ customers value access to more destinations, whether it’s a JetBlue customer who wants more direct access to South America from New York, or an American customer who wants more robust service to Florida. Together, we can give our customers the best of both worlds.”
The partnership enables new strategic growth opportunities for both airlines. As a result, American will launch new long haul international service from New York. New destinations include Tel Aviv and Athens. American Airlines will also bring back JFK to Rio De Janeiro in the winter of 2021. Meanwhile, JetBlue will accelerate growth to key cities. JetBlue focus will include growth at all three New York airports. This includes adding the new flights at LaGuardia and Newark, while also increasing its presence at Jetblue’s largest base JFK. Flights to and from JFK will provide seamless connections to American’s expanded international network.
JetBlue claims they have plans to grow, but are keeping their cards close. The airline already announced growth at Newark. Now, JetBlue plans to enhance service to strategic markets on the East Coast, West Coast, and in the Southeast. The exact destinations are still unknown and will depend on market conditions.
Frequent Flyer & Loyalty Plan Benefits
In the press release both airlines are quick to mention new benefits and greater options for flyers. The biggest benefit will be the seamless travel experience. JetBlue’s mint will continue to fly from Newark, JFK, and Boston to West Coast and Caribbean destinations. American Airlines three class first class A321s will also continue to ply the sky as well. Both press releases include the same line, “JetBlue and American loyalty members will also enjoy new benefits while the carriers are exploring additional premium experiences for customers.” What those experiences will be remain vague.
In the future expect to earn and burn miles on both airlines. I look forward to using AA miles to fly Mint cross country if connecting internationally. In addition, I would expect to see some reciprocal lounge access for premium transcon flyer. Providing Admiral Club access at LAX T5 is just one example that I think may be on the table for Mint passengers.
JetBlue has zero plans to join OneWorld and this time, nor join American’s TransAtlantic joint venture.
Jetblue AA Partnership Thoughts
In the uncertain times of flying, I think this tie up makes perfect sense. Since the merger with US Airways, American’s presence in New York has been dwindling with a focus of TATL flying from Philly. AA’s domestic options from the metro’s three airports is limited, often requiring a connection in Dallas or Chicago. American’s focus has only been key business destinations from New York. This partnership will change that and help AA reestablish themselves. In addition, Jetblue loyal customers get access to more international destinations. This partnership will help AA grow and relieve pressure from Delta at JFK and New York – Newark’s giant United.
We may see more airline consolidation in the future and right now, American is protecting their domestic marketshare through strategic partnerships. AA now partners with future Oneworld member Alaska on the West coast and one of the strongest regional airlines on the East coast. Using Jetblue and Alaska for feeder traffic, American Airlines can focus on the midwest and international routes now.
What do you make of this partnership?