JetBlue Airways and American Airlines New Strategic Alliance Details
Key components of the new strategic partnership between JetBlue Airways Corporation and American Airlines Group Incorporated — which was first announced on Thursday, July 16, 2020 and is expected to create seamless connectivity for travelers in the northeastern United States as well as bring a greater number of choices and options for customers across complementary domestic and international networks — will be formally introduced sometime during the first quarter of 2021.
JetBlue Airways and American Airlines New Strategic Alliance Details
The Department of Transportation of the United States has agreed to terminate its review of the new strategic partnership between the two airlines — which occurred over the course of approximately six months — in exchange for a series of commitments to ensure that the new alliance simultaneously delivers benefits to consumers without harming competition, which include:
- Growth commitments to ensure capacity expansion
- Slot divestitures at both John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York and at Washington National Airport
- Antitrust compliance measures
- Refraining from certain kinds of coordination in city pair markets where they are substantial competitors to each other and there is little service from other airlines.
The partnership is not only expected to offer greater seamless connectivity, codeshare benefits, loyalty benefits which will enhance the offerings of each carrier, and better travel choices on routes to and from New York — including John F. Kennedy International Airport, LaGuardia Airport, and Newark International Airport — and Boston Logan International Airport; but also will provide strategic growth and accelerate the recovery of each airline from the current 2019 Novel Coronavirus pandemic, as the expansion of options and enhanced service will be attractive to customers and drive value for customers and team members of both airlines.
“Through this alliance, we are one step closer to bringing customers even more competition in the Northeast, especially on routes currently served by only one airline with high fares and poor service,” Scott Laurence — who is the head of revenue and planning at JetBlue Airways — said in this official press release. “Customers who love the JetBlue experience can look forward to significant growth at LaGuardia and similarly up to 70 daily flights at Newark, as well as seamless connections onto American’s long-haul network in and out of New York and Boston.”
JetBlue Airways has no plans to join the oneworld Alliance or the Atlantic Joint Business Agreement between American Airlines and International Airlines Group — which is the parent company of British Airways, Aer Lingus, Iberia, and Vueling — and JetBlue Airways will continue with plans to independently launch and operate transatlantic flights to London in 2021.
“With this alliance, American and JetBlue will operate the biggest network for our customers in the Northeast, which will allow American to grow our mainline operations as we recover from the pandemic,” Vasu Raja — who is the chief revenue officer of American Airlines — said in this official press release. “We are already planning to launch new international routes to Athens and Tel Aviv this summer, which are just two of many new routes we plan to launch.”
Details of Key Components of the New Alliance
Important components of the new strategic alliance between JetBlue Airways and American Airlines — which are expected to be introduced starting in the first quarter of 2021 and phased in over the course of the year — include but are not limited to:
- Seamless customer experience
With each element of the alliance, both leisure and corporate customers who fly in and out of New York and Boston will enjoy a seamless experience across both airlines — including the ability to book a single itinerary on either Internet web site, access to the significant global network of the alliance, convenient connections, access to benefits in both frequent flier loyalty programs, and an improved overall experience on the ground. JetBlue Airways and American Airlines will offer customers — who seek more comfort and more options in transcontinental service between New York and the west coast — access to both the popular three-class Transcon service on the Airbus A321T aircraft by American Airlines and the Mint premium experience and thoughtful core seating by JetBlue Airways. The premium experience will also be expanded to the fleet, as more dual-class regional aircraft featuring first class are expected to be operated by American Airlines beginning this year.
- Network Alignment in the Northeast
The alliance will offer customers the largest network in New York City and Boston, and it will enable new strategic growth opportunities for both airlines, accelerate the replacement of small regional jets with larger aircraft, while greatly expanding the connectivity between the networks of each carrier in the northeastern United States. American will upgauge aircraft and by the end of 2021 will operate all service out of New York with first class. Starting in the first half of 2021, the schedules of JetBlue Airways and American Airlines in New York and Boston will begin to be aligned to give customers new flight options, with improved schedules, better connections, competitive fares, and access to more domestic and international destinations.
- Expanded Service in the Northeast
As part of the alliance, JetBlue Airways plans to significantly expand its service at New York LaGuardia Airport, as well as further expand in other airports in the New York metropolitan area and in Boston. The alliance will also allow JetBlue Airways to reactivate aircraft that would otherwise sit idle. An expanded operation at LaGuardia further advances the position of JetBlue Airways as New York’s Hometown Airline and accelerates the ability of JetBlue Airways to recover. American Airlines is introducing brand new service on from New York to Tel Aviv and Athens. The loyal customers of American Airlines in New York will be introduced to their first long-haul international service in greater than four years, with even more new routes on the way.
- Codeshare Agreement
Starting later this quarter, JetBlue Airways will place its B6 code on a variety of flights operated by American Airlines in New York and Boston. Likewise, American Airlines will place its AA code on select flights operated by JetBlue Airways also in at John F. Kennedy International Airport and LaGuardia Airport in New York, Newark International Airport, and Boston Logan International Airport. Flights touching New York or Boston from either JetBlue Airways, American Airlines, or connecting combinations of both will be bookable on jetblue.com and aa.com in the coming weeks. The codeshare will introduce customers of JetBlue Airways to greater than 60 new routes operated by American Airlines; and will introduce customers of American Airlines to greater than 130 new routes operated by JetBlue Airways.
- Reciprocal loyalty benefits
Later this year, customers of both the JetBlue Airways TrueBlue and American Airlines AAdvantage frequent flier loyalty programs will be able to enjoy reciprocal benefits — including the ability to earn and/or redeem points or miles on either carrier and thus increasing the value of both loyalty programs. The airlines are also exploring opportunities to recognize JetBlue Airways Mosaic customers and American Airlines AAdvantage elite members across both airlines. Additional details will be announced to loyalty program members later this year.
I am not a member of JetBlue Airways TrueBlue frequent flier loyalty program because the airline does not offer enough service in the region of the United States where I am based; but as a member of the American Airlines AAdvantage frequent flier loyalty program, I may be more compelled to try out the service offered by JetBlue Airways in the future.
Consumers usually win as a result of strategic partnerships between airlines because they usually give customers more options and choices. This partnership between American Airlines and JetBlue Airways should prove to be no exception.
All photographs ©2014, ©2015, and ©2018 by Brian Cohen.