Opinion: JetBlue, American Airlines Merger Would be Great for Caribbean

In light of Tuesday’s announcement that AMR Corporation, the parent company for American Airlines, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, many Caribbean specialists began speculating a possible future merger between American Airlines and JetBlue Ariways due to the carriers’ increasingly close relationship in the last year.

Although US Airways seems to be the heavy favorite among experts to join forces with the ailing American Airlines, JetBlue and American’s reciprocal frequent flyer program, which was last November, proves that the two carriers can work on the same page.

And a potential merger between the two carriers would be a dream scenario for any client – especially JetBlue loyalists- looking for additional flights to the Caribbean.

It’s no secret that JetBlue has a deep affection for the Caribbean and seems to have a desire to fly to every island in the region. The most aggressive year for the airline with regards to adding Caribbean destinations was arguably 2009 when JetBlue took on Barbados, St. Lucia and Kingston, Jamaica. According to the Centre for Aviation, JetBlue was capitalizing on the downsizing by AMR Corp., the parent company of American Airlines, in the Caribbean.

JetBlue now flies to the Caribbean islands of Barbados, St. Lucia, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Turks and Caicos, Aruba and Saint Maarten. It also flies to Bermuda. According to the Centre for Aviation, the Caribbean was 12 percent of JetBlue's business in 2007 and has since doubled to 24 percent with 70 daily departures. AMR meanwhile has reduced departures to 50 from 100 in the same period.

And that number would skyrocket if JetBlue would ever absorb American Eagle, which offers a slew of Caribbean connections from Puerto Rico and has been described by some agents as “having been on the block for sometime.”

And the impact for suppliers and agents would be monumental.

Just look at what the merger between United Airlines and Continental Airlines did for MLT Vacations. Because of the merger, United markets now have access to Continental’s airlift to the region, which could open up new markets to the Caribbean for MLT, including Chicago, Houston, Washington, Dallas, Boston and other gateways.

For now, we shall wait and see.

Keep visiting www.travelagentcentral.com for more updates on this story.

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