American Airlines and JetBlue are working hard to create a viable third major competitor in the Norte for air travelers. The airlines cooperate under the Northeast Alliance (NEA) and are touting their moves to further their alliance and offer a better travel experience to their customers. As part of that, American Airlines is making some network moves to create a more strategic competitor in the region.
American Airlines alters business routes
In a recent change, American Airlines will be ending its “Shuttle” product that was available on select routes in the Northeast. It will also end service between LaGuardia Airport (LGA) and Boston Logan International Airport (BOS). As part of the partnership with JetBlue, that airline will serve that route exclusively while American turns its attention elsewhere. American Airlines will continue to fly from New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) to Boston.
American’s other business routes will be altered. It will continue operating high-frequency services from LGA to Washington’s Reagan National Airport (DCA) and Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD). However, in 2022, the airline will re-time the routes to offer a complimentary schedule with JetBlue and give passengers more choice.
American Airlines did not hesitate to throw some shade at other airlines when it came to its international expansion under the NEA, stating:
“While other airlines try to make old routes new again, American has continued to operate its international schedule during the pandemic. Bolstered by the NEA, American is currently the fastest growing international carrier in New York. The alliance connects the Northeast to almost 150 worldwide destinations, including 10 new international routes from American.”
This year, American launched several long-haul flights. The carrier started flights to Tel Aviv (TLV) in Israel in May. Flights to Athens, Greece (ATH) started in June. In July, American inaugurated flights between New York and Santiago (SCL). On Friday, American will launch flights to New Delhi, India (DEL). Next month, flights to Rio de Janeiro (GIG) will start. In January 2022, American will up-gauge its aircraft on routes from New York to Medellin (MDE) and Cali (CLO) in Colombia.
While United Airlines has a massive 2022 expansion planned from its hub at Newark (EWR), Delta Air Lines has been more muted in New York. American and Delta are fierce competitors, including at JFK. While Delta has announced new flights from Boston to Athens and Tel Aviv next year, the airline has not added new routes out of JFK. Its flight to Dubrovnik, Croatia, launched in 2021, is not coming back next year. Launched pre-crisis, the airline’s flights to Mumbai (BOM) are also not coming back yet.
An improved offering
JetBlue and American are continuing to roll out their codeshare partnership, which currently covers nearly 600 origin and destination markets. At key hubs, like JFK, the two airlines have also made connections easier while adding new flights.
From December, American and JetBlue will consistently offer lie-flat seats on all transcontinental routes. This will cover offerings from New York and Boston. The airline touts that the partnership will offer the most lie-flat premium seats from the Northeast to the West Coast than any other airline. JetBlue has also been providing customers access to the airline’s upgraded Mint product on select flights between New York and Los Angeles.
At the end of the day, American and JetBlue are preparing to end 2021 after a successful year of building up the NEA. The two airlines are looking at expanding their route networks, with more planned in 2022. Despite facing a challenge from the US government, the airlines are defiant and optimistic.