A new American Airlines and JetBlue partnership will allow the airlines to sell seats on each other’s flights and share frequent flyer benefits.
This kind of alliance is common among international carriers, which face limits on where they can fly in each other’s respective countries. It’s less common, but not unheard of, for two domestic airlines that compete against one another.
The airlines said this alliance will “create seamless connectivity for travelers in the Northeast and more choice for customers across their complementary domestic and international networks,” adding that “the relationship will accelerate each airline’s recovery as the travel industry adapts to new trends as a result of the pandemic.”
While American, the world’s largest airline, is much larger than JetBlue, JetBlue does have a strong market position in New York and on some key routes between that city and Boston and Florida.
American has a similar alliance with Alaska Air, which is primarily a West Coast carrier, that was announced earlier this year just before the pandemic started severely affecting US air travel. Northwest and Continental Airlines also had an alliance at one point before both companies were purchased by other, larger airlines.
The agreement comes at a time when all airlines are struggling with the massive plunge in demand for air travel during the Covid-19 pandemic. All airlines are expected to post massive losses in the second quarter, and layoffs are looming at many carriers come October. Job cuts are not allowed until then as part of a $25 billion federal bailout of the airline industry passed earlier this year.
American, the world’s largest airline, is notifying 25,000 employees today that they face the possibility of losing their jobs, although the airline said not all of those job cuts are certain.
There has been some modest rebound in air travel by leisure passengers in recent weeks. But some airlines, including United (UAL) and Delta (DAL), are reporting that bookings have started to fall again due to a rise in Covid-19 cases. There have also been limits on travelers from Covid-19 hotspots traveling to some areas of the Northeast.