American, JetBlue expanding Northeast Alliance service

The Northeast Alliance of American Airlines and JetBlue out of the New York and Boston areas will add seven new year-round services next spring and three summer seasonal routes.

American will be responsible for six of those additions, all of them from New York’s LaGuardia Airport. They include three-times daily Buffalo service, twice-daily Greenville, S.C., flights and daily flights to Grand Rapids, Mich., Birmingham, Ala., Columbia, S.C., and Knoxville, Tenn. All of those services will begin May 5. 

JetBlue, meanwhile, plans to add daily service between LaGuardia and Nassau. New summer seasonal routes are to include daily LaGuardia-Hyannis, Mass., flights, daily LaGuardia-Bermuda flights and daily summer seasonal service from Boston to Vancouver. 

The new Vancouver route will be JetBlue’s second to the British Columbia city from the East Coast, joining the JFK service the carrier launched early this year. 

In addition to those routes, JetBlue will launch four-times daily LaGuardia-Atlanta service this spring. But those flights will serve to replace American’s existing LaGuardia-Atlanta service, which it plans to halt.

JetBlue did not provide specific launch dates for its new routes. 

Antitrust lawsuit up to judge

Friday’s route announcements from American and JetBlue comes as a federal judge deliberates over a Justice Department antitrust lawsuit aimed at breaking up the Northeast Alliance. Under the terms of the alliance, the carriers can jointly schedule and share revenue on routes from LaGuardia, JFK, Newark and Boston. The Justice Department argues that the alliance has reduced market competition. Closing arguments in the case were delivered on Nov. 22. 

American and JetBlue said Friday that the Northeast Alliance has thus far resulted in approximately 50 new routes out of the four alliance airports, increased frequencies on more than 130 existing routes and increased capacity on 90 nonstop routes. 

On seven of the alliance’s new LaGuardia routes they’ll provide the only competition to Delta, Cirium flight schedule data shows. JetBlue’s new Nassau routes will augment existing American service between LaGuardia and the Bahamian capital. JetBlue’s new seasonal Boston-Vancouver flights will be the lone competitor to seasonal Air Canada service. 

As the two carriers add routes and capacity from the Northeast this spring, they’ll also be making some cuts. In addition to doing away with its own LaGuardia-Atlanta service, American will reduce frequencies on its LaGuardia-Chicago O’Hare and LaGuardia-Washington Reagan services, spokeswoman Andrea Koos said.

JetBlue spokesman Philip Stewart didn’t offer specific information on planned JetBlue cuts out of the four alliance airports.

“We intend to maintain service on most of the routes we currently operate at LaGuardia,” he said. “We will adjust frequencies on existing routes in order to further diversify the destinations we serve, which will bring more variety and choices to customers.”

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