American Airlines and JetBlue Form Strategic Alliance

(American Airlines)

American Airlines and JetBlue are joining forces in an alliance that the two carriers expect will help them in the increasingly competitive New York market. USA TODAY reports that the move comes in the face of Delta's increasing presence in New York.

As part of the pact, "AA will give JetBlue enough slots at Washington National Airport to operate at least eight daily round-trip flights," The Associated Press reports. AA will also give JetBlue the slots for one additional daily round-trip flight at Westchester County, NY; reciprocally, JetBlue plans to give AA enough slots at JFK to add 12 additional daily round-trip flights.

Both airlines say "the agreement will provide customers with interline service in non-overlapping markets, which will offer them more choices and convenient connections." Also, the alliance "will offer JetBlue customers simple connections to American's international flights and new convenient domestic flight options on JetBlue for American's customers in and out of New York and Boston."

The focus of the partnership is on routes into and out of JFK and Boston Logan. One example cited by USA TODAY: "It would provide seamless service for customers who wish to fly nonstop from Nantucket to JFK on JetBlue and from there to London on American. Likewise, customers can board American from Paris to JFK and connect to a nonstop flight on JetBlue to Burlington, VT. JetBlue customers will be able to connect on flights to 12 of American's international destinations from JFK and Boston including Barcelona, Spain; Sao Paulo, Brazil; and Tokyo, Japan."

Moreover, AA customers will be able to book connecting flights via Boston or JFK on 18 JetBlue "domestic routes where the carriers don't currently compete, …. including Portland, ME; Nantucket, MA.; and Burlington, VT."

Under terms of the agreement, "American will transfer eight slot pairs at Ronald Reagan National Airport and one slot pair at White Plains, NY to JetBlue, and JetBlue intends to transfer 12 slot pairs at JFK to American."

Focus on New York

AA said it will also expand marketing efforts to NYC travelers, including a partnership with NYC & Company to promote travel. Full details of the total AA program will be released later today.

Our announcements today demonstrate our strong commitment to New York, and we look forward to expanding that commitment in the months and years to come,” said Gerard Arpey, chairman and CEO of American Airlines. “We have a long history in New York, and we’re going to grow those roots with new routes, new partnerships, even deeper local relationships, and the kind of service that New Yorkers expect and that will attract more visitors and commerce to the city.”

Highlights of American's program include: offering 31 new flights on 13 new routes combined from LaGuardia and JFK airports by the end of 2010; adding seven new destinations served by 23 new flights and enhancing service with American Eagle Bombardier two-class regional jets.

American also said it was investing more than $30 million in LaGuardia and JFK terminal improvements. American is also exploring a British Airways and American co-location at JFK Terminal 8 for easier passenger connections to oneworld Alliance partners.

Underscoring AA's commitment to the New York market, it has also named Art Torno as vice president – New York. Torno will be responsible for airport operations and broad oversight of all of the company’s activities in the New York market.

American said it believes the network initiatives will build passenger demand for its international network to Europe, Asia and South America, including its joint business with British Airways and Iberia between North America and Europe. This is expected to be approved by regulators and implemented later this year. When it is able to consult with British Airways and Iberia following regulatory approval, American said it expects to announce new international destinations to be added in 2011 at JFK.

Separately, American said its announced expansion of marketing efforts with NYC & Company, the city’s official marketing, tourism and partnership organization, will ensure that its customers in New York are aware of the latest improvements and future initiatives. American said it will work more closely with the city to attract additional visitors to New York City, an important shared goal for American and NYC & Company.

“Our partnership with NYC & Company will help American and the city to achieve our mutual goal of bringing more people to New York City,” said Dan Garton, executive vice president–marketing for American Airlines. “Aligning American with the city’s official tourism organization will help generate awareness and loyalty from New Yorkers, who appreciate companies that support the city. Plus, we’re excited about working closely with NYC & Company to generate traffic from around the U.S. and the world to the great city of New York.”

“This announcement is yet another great moment in the long partnership that NYC & Company has shared with American Airlines,” said NYC & Company CEO George Fertitta. “This partnership will combine strategic opportunities to drive travel to New York City through existing programs and new initiatives that will underscore New York City as an exciting destination in key domestic markets. By working with tourism partners who help New York City offer visitors a world-class travel experience, New York City will remain on course to achieve Mayor Bloomberg’s mandate to attract 50 million visitors annually by 2012."