Norwegian Air has announced today that it has signed a letter of intent for an interline agreement with US low-cost carrier, JetBlue. The partnership is planned to launch in summer 2020, and will be bookable from early 2020 if all goes to plan.
Norwegian’s Acting CEO and Chief Financial Officer, Geir Karlsen, commented in a press release,
“We are very excited to partner with JetBlue as this will make international travel even smoother and more available for our customers. JetBlue is the largest airline at several of our key gateways in the United States, specifically New York JFK, Boston and Fort Lauderdale, and this partnership will create a plethora of new route connections for customers on both sides of the Atlantic.
“The partnership will provide travelers throughout the U.S., Caribbean and Latin America with more affordable fares to Europe and vice versa. And not least it will offer seamless connections with two of the most awarded low-cost airlines in the world.”
What does this mean for passengers?
According to information released by the airline, the new agreement will connect more than 60 destinations in the US to Norwegian via its gateways at JFK, Boston and Fort Lauderdale. As well as this, just short of 40 destinations in the Caribbean and Latin America will benefit also.
From these airports, Norwegian offers over 20 direct connections to European destinations, and access to its extensive European network of more than 550 routes. Passengers will be able to benefit from one single booking and from checking bags right through from origin to destination across the two carriers.
From the release, it was unclear whether there would be loyalty benefits to the partnership too. However, Anders Lindström, Norwegian’s Director of Communications, North America, told Simple Flying,
“The partnership will not begin with reciprocal frequent-flyer benefits, though they could be added once the airlines’ partnership is finalized.”
What about JetBlue’s transatlantic expansion?
The implications for JetBlue are far-reaching. Although the airline has said it plans to begin transatlantic service in 2021, no details have emerged in regard to which airport(s) it will fly into. Norwegian’s strong presence at London Gatwick could, therefore, mean one of two things.
One potential outcome is that JetBlue will target Gatwick with early routes, in order to maintain a smooth interline with its new partner Norwegian. If this happens, Norwegian may look to move to Terminal 5 at JFK in order to link up better with JetBlue on the other side of the pond.
The other option is that they keep the two fairly separate, with JetBlue targeting business travelers with its Mint product at Heathrow and T5, while Norwegian focuses on leisure passengers via London Gatwick.
Robin Hayes, Chief Executive Officer at JetBlue, commented on the partnership, saying,
“This new agreement with Norwegian seamlessly connects JetBlue’s robust network throughout the U.S., Caribbean and Latin America with the exciting European destinations on our new partner’s route map. Norwegian shares our belief that customers benefit when we can bring competition and low fares to the transatlantic market currently dominated by joint ventures, legacy alliances and sky-high ticket prices.”
Overall, the deal looks to be perfect for both parties. Both airlines have a similar ethos when it comes to pricing and value for money, and both are looking to grow their presence in the transatlantic market.