Etihad Airways and JetBlue have reached a codeshare agreement enhancing the Abu Dhabi carrier’s connectivity in the United States.
The agreement, which is awaiting US government approval, would facilitate connections at New York’s John F Kennedy International Airport and Washington’s Dulles International Airport on 40 JetBlue routes, Etihad said.
The second stage of the agreement will begin in June when Etihad starts daily flights to Los Angeles.
Eventually Etihad will have its codeshare on JetBlue flights between New York and the Dominican Republic, Jamaica and Colombia.
The New York-based discount carrier flies to 82 cities.
“JetBlue is the largest carrier at New York JFK, where Etihad will soon have double-daily flights. JetBlue is not a member of an alliance and does not have a long-haul network, so foreign carriers see it as a relatively neutral partner,” said Will Horton, a senior analyst at Capa – Centre for Aviation.
“And that flows the other way: JetBlue does not have competitive concerns about helping Etihad whereas Delta, the second-largest carrier at JFK, is anti-Gulf.”
Mr Horton added that although Etihad already works with American Airlines, JetBlue is bigger at JFK. It also provides “some insulation” should the partnership between Etihad and American Airlines change.
“The US is a major and growing market for Etihad Airways and this partnership with JetBlue will enable us to offer our guests more options for travel within and beyond the US,” said James Hogan, Etihad’s chief executive.
Etihad also plans to launch services to Dallas-Fort Worth in December.
Last month, Etihad started recruiting in the US to meet its rapid expansion in the American market.
Mr Hogan previously told The National that an Abu Dhabi-based pre-customs clearance for passengers going to the US still awaits the approval of the American authorities. However, Etihad and Abu Dhabi airport officials were ready to implement the clearance.