American Airlines has teamed up with Alaska Airlines and JetBlue to bolster its route network and better compete with Delta and United. Both partners provide a number of potential benefits to American. But could JetBlue turn out to be a Trojan Horse?
Could JetBlue Be A Trojan Horse Invading The American Airlines Camp?
Writing for The Motley Fool, Adam Levine-Weinberg offers an interesting analysis on the potential of danger of AA’s new marriage with JetBlue.
First, he contrasts JetBlue with Alaska Airlines, arguing that AA’s weakness west of the Rockies and Alaska’s weakness on the East Coast made the tie-up a win-win situation. Particularly, American’s new longhaul flights to Bangalore, London, and Shanghai will be bolstered tremendously by a feed from Alaska Airlines.
Then, he questions whether the JetBlue tie-up will have the same effect. Yes, American Airlines is weaker than Delta and United in the New York City area. Yes, JetBlue has the potential to provide an essential feed of traffic to American Airlines both domestically and internationally.
But there’s one key difference: unlike Alaska, JetBlue has longhaul aspirations of its own. Later this year it will add service to London and plans to build a fleet of Airbus A321XLR aircraft with which to serve many cities in Europe and Latin America in the coming years. Could it be that American underestimates it is helping to build its future transatlantic competitor; a competitor that has promised to disrupt pricing on pre-pandemic bread and butter routes like service between London and New York or Boston?
Ultimately, Levein-Weinberg reaches an inconclusive conclusion:
Despite the long-term risks of the JetBlue partnership, American Airlines may not have had a better alternative. Its weaknesses vis-a-vis Delta and United represent far more pressing concerns than the threat of losing customers to JetBlue years down the road. Nevertheless, investors should recognize that any near-term gains for American Airlines from the JetBlue partnership could come at a long-term cost.
The Trojan Horse metaphor is my own. I make no effort to hide my love for JetBlue. Perhaps more so than the growth in JetBlue’s international route network, American Airlines should be concerned that people are going to fall in love with flying on JetBlue!
JetBlue’s Mint Business Class product is the best in the nation and frankly one of world’s best business class experiences. With its new A321s bound for London, JetBlue is taking it up another notch, with a new product.
American Airlines isn’t bad. Wi-Fi is fast, the seats are fine, and it serving more food onboard than Alaska, American, or Delta. But it is comparatively bad in relation to JetBlue.
Let me illustrate this practically. Let’s say American and JetBlue cozy up and you can earn elite status or score upgrades on a reciprocal basis. Let’s say they are both flying between New York and Los Angeles at different times of day. I’m telling you clearly: I’m taking JetBlue. Whether in economy class or business class, JetBlue simply offers a better product.
I find oneworld Emerald status very valuable (at least I did before the pandemic) and intend to keep it. But if those JetBlue flights allow me to do that, I will always prioritize JetBlue over Alaska or American. And when the relationship eventually crumbles (if JetBlue grows too large), my loyalty to JetBlue may be too great to return to the “dAArk side.”
Stabilizing the balance of the New York City and Boston markets are important goals. Thus, I do not fault American Airlines at all for its choice to partner with JetBlue. Still, American should watch its back. JetBlue has big growth aspirations in sight and won’t let AA get in the way of them.