JetBlue (NASDAQ: JBLU) and American Airlines Group Inc. (NASDAQ: AAL) today announced their strategic alliance is moving ahead following review by the Department of Transportation (DOT). Both carriers will begin implementing key aspects of this innovative and customer-focused alliance in phases, offering more seamless connectivity and better travel choices on routes to and from New York(JFK, LGA and EWR) and Boston (BOS). The carriers also expect this alliance will accelerate each airline’s recovery from the pandemic as customers are attracted to the expansion of options and enhanced service.
“Due to the COVID crisis, I fought for and delivered over $40 billion in payroll support to the airlines and its workers to keep the industry from collapsing and prevent massive job loss,” said incoming Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY). “I am glad to see JetBlue and American Airlines collaborating on innovative solutions to save thousands more jobs in a way that also expands New Yorkers’ travel options.”
“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,” said Scott Laurence, head of revenue and planning at JetBlue. “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.”
“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,” said Vasu Raja, American’s Chief Revenue Officer. “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.”
Important components of the alliance will be introduced starting in the first quarter of 2021 and phased in over the course of the year:
- Seamless customer experience
With each element of the alliance, customers flying in and out of New York and Boston will enjoy a more seamless experience across both airlines, including the ability to book a single itinerary on either website, access to the alliance’s significant global network, convenient connections, access to loyalty benefits and an improved on-the-ground experience — resulting in a compelling proposition for both leisure and corporate customers.
- 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 each carrier’s network in the Northeast. 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, JetBlue and American schedules 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 plans to significantly expand its service at New York LaGuardia Airport (LGA), as well as further expand in other NYC airports and in Boston. The alliance will also allow JetBlue to reactivate aircraft that would otherwise sit idle. An expanded operation at LaGuardia further advances JetBlue’s position as New York’s Hometown Airline® and accelerates the airline’s ability to recover.
As previously announced, American is introducing brand new service on from New York (JFK) to Tel Aviv (TLV) and Athens (ATH). American’s loyal customers in New York will be introduced to their first long-haul international service in more than four years, with even more new routes on the way.
- Codeshare agreement
Starting later this quarter, JetBlue will place its B6 code on a variety of American flights in New York and Boston. Likewise, American will place its AA code on select JetBlue flights also in at New York’s John F. Kennedy International, LaGuardia (LGA) and Newark Liberty International (EWR) airports, as well as Boston Logan International Airport (BOS). Flights touching New York or Boston from either JetBlue, American or connecting combinations of both will be bookable on jetblue.com and aa.com in the coming weeks. The codeshare will introduce JetBlue customers to more than 60 new routes operated by American and will introduce American’s customers to more than 130 new routes operated by JetBlue.
- Reciprocal loyalty benefits
Later this year, customers of both JetBlue’s TrueBlue and American’s AAdvantage® programs will be able to enjoy reciprocal benefits, including the ability to earn and/or redeem points or miles on either carrier making both loyalty program even more valuable. The airlines are also exploring opportunities to recognize JetBlue Mosaic customers and American’s AAdvantage elite members across both airlines. More details will be announced to loyalty program members later this year.
Department of Transportation terminates its review
Following an approximately six-month review, the DOT has agreed to terminate its review of the alliance in exchange for a series of commitments to ensure the alliance delivers consumers benefits without harming competition. These include growth commitments to ensure capacity expansion, slot divestitures at JFK and at Washington, D.C.’s Reagan National Airport (DCA) and antitrust compliance measures. Beyond today’s agreement with the DOT, the carriers will also be 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.