American, JetBlue To Grow Northeast Alliance In 2023

A US federal judge’s ruling on whether the alliance violates antitrust law is pending.

Credit: Joe Pries

Even as the US Justice Department (DOJ) seeks to block the American Airlines-JetBlue Airways Northeast Alliance (NEA), the carriers are pushing ahead and expanding the partnership with a host of new routes for the summer 2023 season.

From New York Kennedy (JFK) alone, NEA will operate nearly 300 daily departures in 2023. Overall, NEA will offer around 700 daily departures next year, including approximately 200 from Boston Logan (BOS). 

The two airlines launched the partnership from the Boston and New York metro areas in February 2021 after outgoing Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao approved the deal the previous month. The NEA allows the coordination of schedules at BOS, JFK and New York LaGuardia (LGA) airports. 

A federal trial in Boston pitting DOJ against the airlines to determine whether the alliance violates US antitrust law was concluded last month, and a judge’s ruling is being awaited. DOJ alleges NEA will cause consumers to pay “hundreds of millions of dollars” more annually in fares than would be the case without the alliance.

The airlines describe the alliance as “pro-competitive” and maintain they are unable to effectively compete in the US northeast without NEA. JFK-based JetBlue in particular has said its ability to grow in the New York market is contingent on NEA standing. JetBlue is also facing DOJ scrutiny over its proposed merger with Spirit Airlines.

But the airlines are forging ahead, unveiling a string of new NEA routes for the summer 2023 season. From May 5, American will launch six NEA routes from LGA: Birmingham (BHM) in Alabama (1X-daily); Buffalo (BUF) in New York state (3X-daily); Columbia (CAE) and Greenville (GSP) in South Carolina (1X-daily and 2X-daily, respectively); Grand Rapids (GRR) in Michigan (1X-daily); and Knoxville (TYS) in Tennessee (1X-daily). 

For the summer 2023 season, JetBlue will open four new NEA routes from LGA: Atlanta (ATL) (4X-daily); Hyannis (HYA) in Massachusetts (1X-daily seasonal service); Bermuda (BDA) (1X-daily seasonal service); and Nassau (NAS) in the Bahamas (1X-daily).

Additionally, JetBlue will start daily summer seasonal service between BOS and Vancouver (YVR). JetBlue already operates an NEA route between JFK and YVR. 

“As we continue to enhance the Northeast Alliance and link more destinations with new nonstop choices, customers finally have a compelling alternative to the carriers that have dominated the [northeast US] market for too long,” JetBlue VP-NEA Dave Fintzen said in a statement.