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American Airlines adds Athens, Tel Aviv routes from New York under new JetBlue pact

July 16, 2020
4 min read
American Airlines adds Athens, Tel Aviv routes from New York under new JetBlue pact
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American Airlines plans to beef up its long-haul options from New York next year under a new partnership with JetBlue Airways.

The Fort Worth, Texas-based carrier will add service between New York John F. Kennedy (JFK) and both Athens (ATH) and Tel Aviv (TLV) next summer, American said on Thursday. The airline also reaffirmed plans to resume seasonal service between JFK and Rio de Janeiro (GIG) in the winter of 2021.

The routes are part of a new alliance between American and JetBlue that will see them codeshare on nearly 200 routes and provide "seamless" connections at Boston Logan (BOS) and the three big New York CIty-area airports. The tie up will also include as-of-yet unspecified reciprocal “loyalty benefits."

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New York-based JetBlue will also add flights from JFK, Newark Liberty (EWR) and New York LaGuardia (LGA) under the pact, according to the carriers. They did not provide details of what these additions will entail.

American is breaking the mold, so to speak, of traditional U.S. airline tie-ups. Instead of focusing on capturing domestic travel by expanding flying with its own jets while partnering with a plethora of carriers abroad, it has now inked expansive deals just this year with both Alaska Airlines and JetBlue — the country's fifth and sixth largest airlines by passenger numbers, respectively.

The country's other major carriers — Delta Air Lines, Southwest Airlines and United Airlines — continue to focus on their own recovery from the coronavirus pandemic and future organic growth.

Related: American, JetBlue jolt industry with plans for Northeast alliance

American's tie up with Alaska will see the carriers codeshare on flights from West Coast hubs including Los Angeles (LAX) and Seattle (SEA). In addition, the major carrier plans to add new routes to Bangalore, India (BLR), London Heathrow (LHR) and Shanghai Pudong (PVG) from Seattle next year.

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The international additions by American in New York, on top of its plans for Seattle, ratchet up its competition with industry leader Delta. Before the coronavirus pandemic, Atlanta-based Delta flew between JFK and Athens, Tel Aviv and Rio, and has already resumed service to the Israeli city.

American also appears to be taking advantage of Israeli airline El Al's financial struggles. The carrier has suspended operations for the month of July, though its future remains in doubt as the crisis decimates airline revenues.

Related: American drops 19 long-haul routes; cuts in LAX, adds in Seattle

United Airlines has moved quickly to become the largest carrier flying between the U.S. and Israel. The Chicago-based carrier has maintained its flights between Newark and Tel Aviv through the pandemic; resumed service between San Francisco (SFO) and Tel Aviv this month; and will add and resume flights to the Israeli city from Chicago O'Hare (ORD) and Washington Dulles (IAD) this fall.

American had planned to return to Tel Aviv from Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) this summer after suspending Philadelphia (PHL) flights in 2016. However, those plans were suspended when the coronavirus hit. Its current plans call for new service to the city from both Dallas/Fort Worth and JFK in 2021.

Two decades ago, American nearly flew between JFK and Tel Aviv after its acquisition of Trans World Airlines (TWA) in 2001. TWA was one of the few U.S. carriers serving Israel at the time, having flown nonstop between JFK and Tel Aviv since the 1970s.

Related: Alaska Airlines plans to join Oneworld, forms alliance with American

Of course, American could still adjust its international expansion plans at JFK. No one knows when international travel restrictions will lift with airlines' monthly schedules adjusting with often little notice as quarantines and border closures change.

American has not said what aircraft will fly its new long-haul routes from JFK. However, with the retirement or storage of its Airbus A330 and Boeing 767 fleets plus on-going deliveries of new Boeing 787s, the likelihood of service with a Dreamliner is high.

Prior to the pandemic, 767s and Boeing 777s were the only wide-body jets American flew from JFK, Cirium shows.

Related: A country-by-country guide to coronavirus recovery

Featured image by Alberto Riva

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Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
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If you are looking to take your premium rewards to the highest level, this card is really a no brainer in our eyes. Chase's Ultimate Rewards make points easy to redeem, with a wide range of 10 airline and three hotel transfer partners and a friendly user interface. Despite the high annual fee, Chase is consistently adding new benefits to keep the card competitive in a fierce premium rewards field.

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  • $300 annual travel credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • Access to Chase Ultimate Rewards hotel and airline travel partners
  • Unlimited 3x points on the broad category of travel and dining
  • 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Broad definitions for travel and dining bonus categories

Cons

  • Steep $550 annual fee
  • May not make sense for people that don't travel frequently
  • You must spend the $300 travel credit before earning 3x points for travel and dining
  • No automatic hotel elite status
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,200 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select and up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, NEXUS, or TSA PreCheck®
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more