JetBlue Airways Corp., emboldened by its dominance at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport, on Friday said it will cooperate with South African Airways to let customers purchase single intineraries for flights on both airlines with a connection at JFK.
Passengers who purchase these combined itineraries will be able to travel on a single e-ticket, check their bags to their final destination and receive boarding passes for both carriers’ flights upon checking in with JetBlue in the U.S. or SAA in southern Africa, JetBlue said.
JetBlue, a leading U.S. discount carrier, already has similar marketing arrangements with Deutsche Lufthansa AG, Aer Lingus Group PLC and AMR Corp.’s American Airlines.
The South African Airways tie-up, which begins next week will call for SAA to sell on its website tickets with connections at JFK to all JetBlue cities and to 40 cities in the SAA network. JFK is a gateway for SAA’s daily flight from Johannesburg. SAA also flies to Washington with a stop in Dakar, Senegal.
Dave Barger, JetBlue’s chief executive officer, said in a recent interview that the carrier’s “open architecture” strategy allows it to partner with different types of airlines to get more leverage from its domestic and Caribbean route network and its leading positions in New York and Boston.
“I don’t think you have to be in one of the major alliances,” Mr. Barger said, referring to the big three global marketing groups, Star Alliance, SkyTeam and oneworld. “In an ideal world, you’re not alligned and you have deals with American, Lufthansa and Aer Lingus,” he said.
It can be tricky to have relationships with these rival airlines, he said, and to juggle “contrarian relations” between a discount airline and major-network airlines. But the fact that other, larger airlines want to funnel their passengers into JetBlue’s network “is an affirmation of JetBlue, our culture and our product,” he said.
Lufthansa, a minority owner of JetBlue, is a major player in the Star Alliance, which includes UAL Corp.’s United Airlines, Continental Airlines Inc. and South African Airways. American is an anchor member of the oneworld alliance, which includes British Airways PLC. Aer Lingus operates joint-venture flights with United between Washington and Madrid. On its website, the Irish carrier also sells bookings on JetBlue flights to 30 destinations via New York and Boston.