JetBlue, Virgin Sign Agreement on Transatlantic Flights
JetBlue Airways said it entered into an interline agreement with Virgin Atlantic, which will allow passengers to make connecting flights on transatlantic routes using a single itinerary and baggage check.
JetBlue, which operates a main hub at New York-based John F. Kennedy International Airport, said the agreement will allow passengers to connect to London, Glasgow or Manchester on Virgin Atlantic.
Interline deals with Lufthansa, Aer Lingus and other carriers have also helped JetBlue boost market share among customers looking to fly overseas.
"JetBlue has signed a number of interline agreements over the past year to capitalize on its leadership position at JFK, Boston and Orlando, where we are either the largest carrier or had significant presence," JetBlue spokesman Mateo Lleras tells AOL Travel News.
The alliance falls short of code-share agreements, that allow the airlines to sell seats on a single shared flight or antitrust immunity, which allows airlines to negotiate prices, share revenue and share operating expenses like a single carrier. Lleras said JetBlue has no current plans to expand beyond the interline agreement with Virgin.
In 2010, American Airlines was granted anti-trust immunity to coordinate schedules, pricing and other operations with its OneWorld alliance partners British Airways, Iberia Airlines, Finnair and Royal Jordanian Airlines, a move that Virgin chairman Sir Richard Branson blasted as anti-consumer.
Virgin was the subject of speculation last year that it might pursue a merger to compete with the BA-American alliance.
The JetBlue alliance applies to travel between Boston and London Heathrow, JFK and London Heathrow, Orlando to Glasgow, Manchester or London Gatwick and Washington Dulles to London Heathrow.
Customers will be able to buy tickets on the two airlines through online travel agencies, through global distribution systems or Virgin Atlantic's call center.
JetBlue on March 8 announced an interline agreement with LAN Airlines, based in Santiago, Chile. That agreement allowed passengers to book travel between JetBlue cities and connect to LAN Ecuador, LAN Peru and LAN Argentina. The airline entered an interline agreement with Dubai-based Emirates airlines in November 2010.