American outlines possibilities of expanding JetBlue relationship

Washington DC
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American Airlines continues to believe opportunities exist to expand its newly-minted relationship with JetBlue after the carriers announced an interline partnership in March.

The interline agreement covers 18 JetBlue flights from Boston and New York's JFK and 12 of American's international flights from those two airports.

Today during the Bank of America-Merrill Lynch Global Transportation conference American CEO Gerard Arpey said a number of possibilities exist for American and JetBlue to expand their relationship including a full-fledged codeshare and a frequent flyer tie-up.

Reiterating previous comments, Arpey says he wouldn't be surprised if representatives from American's partners in the Oneworld Alliance are discussing tie-ups with JetBlue, given the low cost carrier's strategic position at JFK.

During the same event JetBlue CEO Dave Barger stressed that of the 70 international flag carriers serving JFK, 30 are not affiliated with one of the three major alliances - Oneworld, SkyTeam and Star.

Dubbing the opportunities to partner at JFK as "open architecture", Barger says the airport's stature as a major gateway allows for the development of variety of relationships. In addition to the tie-up with American, JetBlue has a relationship with non-affiliated Aer Lingus, a codeshare with its major shareholder and Star anchor member Lufthansa and recently added Star member South African Airways as an interline partner.

Even though Star member Lufthansa holds a roughly 19% stake in JetBlue, Barger explains JetBlue looks at its partnership options with a view to what is in the best interest of its largest shareholder.

And while JetBlue COO Robin Hayes says the traditional alliance model is more geared towards legacy carriers, Barger notes that JetBlue will ultimately be open to what make the most sense for the carrier.