American Airlines and JetBlue Airways are launching the first phase of their partnership with the start of 33 new routes and codeshares on nearly 80 more from New York and Boston.
The joint announcement on Feb. 18 came despite JetBlue’s unionized pilots this week rejecting a tentative agreement viewed as key to implementing the alliance. The deal would have provided contractual scope clause relief over 10 years in exchange for a pay increase and additional job protections.
However, American and JetBlue are forging ahead with the planned tie-up—dubbed the Northeast Alliance—and have now unveiled a major network alignment to kick-off the partnership. The first codeshare begins on Feb. 25—just six weeks after the US Transportation Department signed off on the deal.
Initially, JetBlue’s code is being placed on 25 American routes and American’s code is being placed on 49 JetBlue routes. These routes mainly comprise domestic point-to-point markets.
The carriers said more northeast markets, including connections operated by a mix of both American and JetBlue through both Boston and New York, would be added regularly throughout the first half of this year.
The airlines are also introducing 33 new routes in the first phase of their alliance, which American’s chief revenue officer Vasu Raja described as “the first step to delivering the best customer proposition with the biggest network in New York and Boston.”
American is opening 18 new connections, including six international flights to cities across the Caribbean and South America beginning on May 6. From New York John F Kennedy (JFK), the oneworld alliance member will start three new routes to Colombia, flying daily to Cali (CLO), Bogota (BOG) and Medellin (MDE) on board Airbus A319 aircraft.
A 3X-weekly service to Santiago (SCL) in Chile from JFK on a Boeing 777-200 is also being added, with the route expected to go daily in November, while on June 5 American will begin flying two new 1X-weekly services to St. Lucia (UVF) and Turks and Caicos (PLS) using 737-800s.
Analysis of schedules filed with OAG show that American will compete directly with Avianca on the routes to BOG and MDE, with Delta Air Lines and JetBlue also serving JFK-BOG. United Airlines will provide indirect competition to BOG from Newark (EWR).
On the other three international routes, LATAM Airlines Group is scheduled to resume JFK-SCL flying in March, with service set to be daily, while JetBlue operates the JFK-UVF sector. Delta and JetBlue also fly JFK-PLS, with United and JetBlue serving PLS from EWR.
The 12 remaining routes being launched by American are all US domestic, mainly focusing on leisure markets. They include seasonal flights from Boston Logan (BOS) to Jackson Hole (JAC) and Wilmington (ILM), alongside Key West (EYW) and Myrtle Beach (MYR) from New York La Guardia (LGA).
Meanwhile, JetBlue will launch 15 new routes including the opening of two new cities that are designed to further diversify the airline’s flying and grow its presence in the western US.
New summer seasonal flights at Glacier Park International (FCA) in the northwest corner of Montana launch July 1, with nonstop service from JFK. Flights will operate up to 3X-weekly through Sept. 7. On July 2, JetBlue will also start flying from JFK to Boise (BOI) in Idaho, operating 4X-weekly through Sept. 6.
Other network additions comprise 10 new routes from EWR and three from LGA. From July 1, new services from EWR include Antigua (AUA), Cartagena (CTG) and Port-au-Prince (PAP), with Charleston (CHS), Denver (DEN) and Martha’s Vineyard (MVY) starting from LGA.
All the new JetBlue routes will be flown using A320s, apart from EWR-Nantucket (ACK) and LGA-MVY which will be on board Embraer 190 aircraft.
The two airlines added that their alliance “opens new growth opportunities for both carriers by finding ways to better utilize existing gates and slots in congested Northeast airports while offering a seamless travel experience.”
As such, American and JetBlue said passengers would benefit from aligned schedules in Boston and New York, which allow travelers from each airline better timed flights and more frequencies.
Effective from April, the airlines will offer up to 14X-daily flights between New York and Los Angeles (LAX), as well as 9X-daily between New York and BOS. The New York-South Florida market will see up to 47X-daily services.
Photo credit: Joe Pries