American Airlines Group and JetBlue Airways on Thursday announced an alliance that the carriers said would speed their recovery from the pandemic-driven travel downturn by boosting their position in large Northeast markets, reported The Wall Street Journal.
The two airlines want to market each other’s flights and link loyalty programs to improve their competitiveness at the three New York area airports and in Boston. The move comes even as the recovery in leisure flying is stalling because of rising Covid-19 cases and business bookings remain dormant.
American’s move to shore up its Northeast presence comes just six months after it signed a similar deal on the West Coast with Seattle-based Alaska Air Group Inc. Both deals could pressure Delta Air Lines Inc. and other rivals.
The airlines started discussions before the pandemic took hold in the US, though American and JetBlue said they were accelerated by its impact on the industry. Airlines have been forced to park hundreds of planes and consider tens of thousands of job cuts.
US airlines are wrestling with the huge drop in domestic flying caused by coronavirus-driven travel restrictions and economic disruption, and the near-collapse in international flying.
American has added back capacity faster than most rivals since traffic bottomed in April, while JetBlue—which is particularly a large and loyal customer base in New York and Boston—has recently restructured parts of its route network.
The proposed tie-up is subject to regulatory approval but would make the partners the largest carrier in New York measured by aircraft departures, American Chief Revenue Officer Vasu Raja said in an interview.