JetBlue expects to launch Lufthansa partnership this year

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JetBlue expects to begin cooperating with part-owner Lufthansa in the second half of this year and also plans to expand its partnership with Aer Lingus to include a third gateway.

Lufthansa has been discussing a commercial partnership with JetBlue since the German carrier acquired a 19% stake in the New York-based low-cost carrier in late 2007. The two carriers have been slow at developing the technology required to facilitate transferring passengers at JetBlue's New York JFK hub but according to JetBlue CEO Dave Barger they should be ready to finally turn something on later this year.

"We're looking at second semester as the commencement of our activity where we start to flow traffic between the route systems," Barger told analysts today during a conference call to discuss fourth quarter earnings.

Barger adds JetBlue has not factored in any revenue that may be generated by this new partnership in its 2009 projections but "we're excited with what that means in the latter half of the year". He says JetBlue also looks forward to working with other airlines in the Lufthansa group that fly into JFK.

"It's not just commercial traffic, it's the synergies of input with board members, supply chain and really the ability to partner on so many fronts," Barger says.

JetBlue already works with Aer Lingus at JFK and Boston Logan. The two carriers have a codeshare-like arrangement with passengers and bags being transferred between Aer Lingus and JetBlue flights.

"The relationship continues with Aer Lingus over Kennedy as well as Boston. We're also optimistic about [adding] Orlando in 2009," Barger says. "We're very pleased with the Aer Lingus relationship and the ability to co-brand with Aer Lingus and offer the world through our focus cities."