By Joe Brancatelli
American Airlines and the carrier that it once tried to kill in the crib, JetBlue Airways, struck a startling cooperation deal this month and it’s a sure sign that the battle for control of New York may be a fight to the death. As part of a wide-ranging arrangement to keep its flagging New York operations competitive, American is turning to JetBlue for passengers. American and JetBlue will interline on non-overlapping routes, especially AA’s overseas service into and out of New York/Kennedy and Boston/Logan.
To seal the deal, American and JetBlue are swapping take-off and landing slots. Pending government approval, JetBlue will give American a dozen slot pairs at JFK and American will turn over to JetBlue nine slot pairs at Washington/National and Westchester, New York. (JetBlue will use the Wasington slots to launch flights there in November 2010.) The cooperation between both airlines is interesting in light of AA’s first response to JetBlue’s arrival in 2000: it tried to run the newcomer out of business. And American has lost ground lately to JetBlue in Boston.
The other AA moves? It’ll add 13 routes from JFK and LaGuardia, and is talking to its OneWorld partner British Airways about bringing BA’s flights into an expanded American Airlines terminal.
And what’s all this New York activity about? Some of it is simply because the Big Apple is the nation’s largest and most lucrative market. But some of it is also a reaction to the proposed deal between Delta Air Lines and US Airways. They’re trying to swap slots in Washington and New York, too, so Delta can grow its LaGuardia presence to twin with its JFK hub.
Joe Brancatelli is editor and publisher of JoeSentMe.com, a non-commercial Web site for business travelers. Copyright 2009 by Joe Brancatelli. Licensed by contract for Orbitz use.