JetBlue Airways adds Emirates as interline partner; expands American Airlines partnership


JetBlue Airways announced two commercial agreements this week: an interline agreement with Emirates and an expanded relationship and frequent flyer reciprocity with American Airlines.

The moves indicate that the New York JFK-based carrier is seeking to expand its global network and presence through commercial agreements with the carrier continuing to focus on growing its portfolio of international partners. JetBlue also has agreements with South African Airways, El Al and Aer Lingus in addition to Lufthansa, which has a 19% stake in the carrier. 

The frequent flyer reciprocity agreement with American, signed on 17-Nov-2010, also coincides with the first anniversary of JetBlue’s redesigned TrueBlue programme, with the agreement adding to the strength of the reward programme. The carrier has also moving to the Sabre platform will allow JetBlue to scale its business as it grows, including providing better integration with underlying codeshare partners and better connectivity to GDSs and online travel agencies. 

Meanwhile, Jetblue has stated it is open to future alliances, with JetBlue President Dave Barger previously noting, “would we take a look at other opportunities? You bet. Our assets in New York, Terminal 5, I would argue are the most lucrative air transportation market with a number of connections coming across that gateway - perfect from Europe, South America, Asia.” He added: “We want to continue to be able to be real receptive to that on behalf of our shareholders and also be respectful to our largest investors [like Lufthansa), as well."

JetBlue partner airlines 

Partner airline





JetBlue Airways and Emirates announced the launch of an interline agreement from New York JFK International Airport. The agreement will enable passenger to purchase joint Emirates-JetBlue itineraries via the GDS, online travel agencies and by calling Emirates reservations with passenger able to book a combined ticket with one-stop check-in and baggage transfer between the airlines.

From JFK, Emirates offers twice-daily services to Dubai International Airport utilising B777-300ER and A380 equipment. From Dubai, the carrier operates to over 100 cities with a fleet of widebody aircraft. JetBlue is the leading airline at JFK Airport, where it offers premium low-fare service to dozens of cities throughout the Americas and carries more travellers than any other airline.

American Airlines

Mar-2010 and expanded in Nov-2010

American Airlines and JetBlue Airways announced the launch of a reciprocal frequent flyer agreement, effective 18-Nov-2010, which allows members of the American Airlines AAdvantage programme and JetBlue's TrueBlue programme to earn AAdvantage miles or TrueBlue points in select markets.

In addition, the commercial agreement announced in Mar-2010 has been expanded to include one new American Airlines international market and nine new JetBlue domestic markets. The new JetBlue domestic markets include Boston to Baltimore, Charlotte, Newark (from May-2011), Orlando, Pittsburgh, Raleigh-Durham, San Francisco, Washington Reagan and Phoenix from 10-Dec-2010, while the new American Airlines market is New York JFK-Budapest from Apr-2011.

American and JetBlue customers are also now able to book American and JetBlue connecting itineraries on AA.com, providing customers with a new option for booking convenient, interline service in the select markets connecting at JFK and Boston Logan.

The carrier’s added that they “continue to explore opportunities to expand commercial cooperation where it makes sense to both airlines”.

The initial agreement covered commercial collaboration covering connections to American's international flights from New York JFK and Boston Logan International Airport, where JetBlue is the largest domestic airline, from JetBlue’s domestic destinations. The transfer of slots at Ronald Reagan National Airport and White Plains from American Airlines to JetBlue and the transfer of slots at New York JFK was also covered in the agreement. 

Agreement coverage

El Al


JetBlue and El Al announced their intention to sign an interline agreement covering services between the US and Israel. The agreement, effective from Sep-2010, enables customers to purchase a single ticket for travel on flights of both carriers in one transaction covering services to Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion International Airport from most JetBlue cities via New York JFK.

New York's JFK Airport is El Al’s leading gateway into the US, with as many as three daily flights to/from Tel Aviv, and is also JetBlue's main hub with service to 50+ cities across the US, Latin America and the Caribbean.   

The agreement also covers through check-in and easy connections at JFK Airport. Customers will receive boarding cards for both carriers' flights upon check-in with either JetBlue or EL AL and their baggage will be checked to their final destination.

South African Airways


JetBlue and South African Airways established a “comprehensive” interline agreement covering services between the US and southern Africa. Effective 12-May-2010, the agreement enables passengers to purchase a single itinerary for travel on flights of both carriers in one transaction.

New York's JFK is a key gateway for SAA with their daily non-stop flights to South Africa and is also the base of operations for JetBlue Airways, where it is the largest domestic airline. By working together at JFK the carriers will offer more options for travel between the US and southern Africa and provide customers with a smooth travel experience.

This new partnership will offer increased convenience to customers on both sides of the Atlantic by allowing customers to travel on one single e-ticket and by offering through check-in. Customers will be able to check their bags to their final destination and receive boarding cards for both carriers' flights upon check-in with either JetBlue in the US or SAA in southern Africa.

Aer Lingus


JetBlue and Aer Lingus stated bookings through 31-Mar-2009 through their interline agreement “exceeded targets by 50%” allowing JetBlue to connect more than 100 customers from Ireland daily.

JetBlue’s strongest connecting markets from Ireland include Orlando, Palm Beach, Tampa, Fort Lauderdale and Fort Myers. The partnership was extended to allow connections via Boston Logan Airport in northern autumn 2008 and is preparing to add Orlando Airport as a connection destination. Connections were previously made only via New York JFK Airport.

The partnership, which the carrier’s labelled as an “industry-first partnership” is not a traditional interline or codeshare agreement, and allows US and Irish passengers to book a single fare between destinations in Ireland, the US and Puerto Rico at Aer Lingus’ website. The two airlines also provide an airport transport facility, including baggage transfer.

Aer Lingus now ex-CEO, Dermot Mannion, at the time commented that the carrier would “continue to grow and develop new opportunities in partnership with JetBlue to further strengthen our relationship”.



JetBlue and Lufthansa launch codeshare operations linking their two networks via Boston and New York with Lufthansa placing its LH code on JetBlue domestic services and codeshare services covering services between 12 JetBlue destinations in the US and Puerto Rice (including Austin, Buffalo, Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, New Orleans, Pittsburg, Raleigh/Durham, Rochester, San Juan, Syracuse, Tampa and West Palm Beach) and Lufthansa's network of 180 destinations in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia. 

The cooperation with JetBlue complements Lufthansa’s long-standing and successful partnership with United Airlines in the US, and further enhances the carrier’s schedule to and from the US. The codeshare provides an important opportunity for Lufthansa, as its main US gateway is New York JFK, one of JetBlue’s hubs. However, before now, the carrier lacked codeshare connections from the airport as United does not have significant operations at JFK, accounting for just 4.4% of total weekly domestic seats. By contrast, JetBlue has a around a 40% domestic capacity share at JFK, making it the largest domestic carrier at the airport.

Describing the Lufthansa agreement, JetBlue commented: “We look at the relationship as much more than the commercial agreement. It’s the investment, it’s board seats, intellectual expertise, et cetera. I think I’d characterize Lufthansa – and again, we just started selling this – the ability to really monetize JFK as our gateway. We’ve seen this with [Aer Lingus] in Boston and Kennedy.”

JetBlue and Lufthansa intend to further expand their codeshare by adding more JetBlue destinations to the agreement. In Jan-2008, the two airlines entered into an agreement under which Lufthansa purchased an ownership interest in JetBlue Airways Corporation.

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