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.
I agree that AA likely sees its relationship with B6 as a stopgap measure. AA has been steadily and voluntarily retreating from JFK for some time now. They have ample competition on the handful of transatlantic flights that they still offer from JFK, but lack domestic feed necessary to give them any kind of fare advantage. Same situation at BOS. I think AA is likely aware that B6 will eventually eat into AA’s transatlantic business when B6 launches its TATL flights. When the situation either gets bad enough and/or AA finds a better use for its widebody planes, it will retrench them to one of its true fortress hubs.
Adam Levine-Weinberg reaching an inconclusive conclusion? Color me shocked. His analysis is rather pedestrian, certainly not useful for financial or investing purposes, and reads more like something one might find on an aviation forum like A.net or FT.
With that said, his point is well-taken, and the relationship between JetBlue and American is, to me, more akin to Delta and Alaska of the early 2010s and more likely to follow the same trajectory.
I still think JetBlue is ultimately an acquisition target.
Paging that Jetblue fanboy on flyertalk who talks up his stock position in JBLU
I want Jetblue to remain around to force higher premium cabin soft product on the big 3 – like Virgin America did – when will DL/AA/UA wake up and match Mint’s meal service on transcons
@Matthew Off topic but do you know what to expect in terms of dining in Polaris long-haul US to Europe? Has the meal service gotten better as we are getting closer to the end of the pandemic or much of the same weak offerings? I have a flight end of June IAH-FRA and was curious. Thanks
I used to love Jet Blue. However their presence at BWI has been so seriously reduced that Spirit aka SHANDE Air, becomes viable.
Am i the only one not impressed with Mint? the seats are nice sure, but the food options are paltry compared to the 3-course meals on the legacy airlines.
I agree with Tony. The Mint 2.0 food is worse than the previous mint food. They need to kick it up a notch. And frankly, the rubbery fake leather seat upholstery and the air cushion in the mint seat is not that great. And the IFE needs to be replaced to match the new mint. All in all, I’d rather be in the front of an A321T.
I think AA has room for frenemies on trans-Atlantic routes; BA/AA were competitors within Oneworld before the JB was approved – they codeshared on each others’ routes, but had to compete and couldn’t codeshare between N. America/Europe, and there was no FF earn/burn on those either, only status recognition.
I’d like to see B6 drawn closer to the Oneworld sphere (Oneworld Connect perhaps?), but that’s some way off, if at all. Maybe a B6/AS merger.