American Airlines and JetBlue Airways are further expanding their partnership in the US northeast. Together they plan to offer around 700 daily departures from New York’s John F Kennedy (JFK) and LaGuardia (LGA) airports and Boston Logan (BOS) by next summer.
The move comes despite the US Justice Department (DOJ) pushing ahead with a lawsuit against the Northeast Alliance (NEA), alleging the tie-up threatens competition in domestic and transatlantic markets.
“A new year brings new opportunities for the Northeast Alliance to add more JetBlue flying in New York and Boston and to deliver on the customer benefits we’ve promised since first announcing this innovative partnership,” JetBlue president and CEO Joanna Geraghty said.
At JFK, the two carriers plan to offer up to 300 daily departures. JetBlue will operate a record 195 of those flights. Frequencies are being boosted on 11 existing JetBlue routes alongside the introduction of a new Vancouver (YVR) service.
As previously announced, American will also begin serving Doha (DOH) from JFK on June 4, 2022, becoming its sole service to Qatar. The route will seek to drive traffic through Doha to points in oneworld alliance partner Qatar Airways’ network not served by the Dallas-Fort Worth-based airline.
At LaGuardia, the NEA plans to offer nearly 200 daily departures during the summer 2022 season. JetBlue will increase flight frequencies on eight routes and begin service to Portland (PWM).
Boston will also receive about 200 daily departures, of which 150 will be operated by JetBlue. Along with JetBlue’s introduction of routes Vancouver and Asheville (AVL), the carrier plans to serve Washington Reagan National (DCA) up to 16X-daily. Flights to Baltimore/Washington (BWI) will return on June 9 operating up to 5X-weekly.
Meanwhile, American is planning new 1X-weekly services from BOS to Halifax (YHZ), Pensacola (PNS) and Traverse City (TVC) using Embraer E175 aircraft, while existing routes to Louisville (SDF) and Memphis (MEM) will become daily.
The NEA partners also said they are now codesharing on 185 routes. American will have its code placed on 70 JetBlue routes while JetBlue will place its code on 115 American routes.
The planned summer 2022 expansion of the cooperation between the two airlines comes despite the DOJ’s efforts to halt the alliance.
The DOJ—together with attorneys general in Arizona, California, Florida, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Virginia and the District of Columbia—filed a lawsuit in the District of Massachusetts on Sept. 21 to block what it claims is an “unprecedented series of agreements” between American and JetBlue.
The civil antitrust complaint alleges that the pact will “eliminate important competition” in Boston and New York, as well as “significantly diminishing” JetBlue’s incentive to compete with American elsewhere.
In November, the carriers asked a US federal court in Boston to dismiss the antitrust lawsuit, saying that that DOJ is wrongly treating the NEA as a de-facto merger between the airlines, when the agreement is designed for both carriers to retain their independence.
Both carriers have said the NEA is necessary to add a third serious competitor to a New York market traditionally dominated by Delta Air Lines and United Airlines. Because of slot constraints, JetBlue has said it cannot grow in its home New York market absent the NEA.
However, the carriers and DOJ have tentatively agreed to a September 2022 trial if the lawsuit is not dismissed.