American, United add new airline partners in India, South Africa
American Airlines and United Airlines are both making friends in new frontiers.
This week, both carriers unveiled partnerships with local airlines based in some of their highest-profile new destinations. American Airlines is teaming up with IndiGo, one of the largest domestic airlines in India, while United is partnering with Airlink in South Africa.
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American's partnership with IndiGo
American Airlines is about to commence service to India once again — it last flew there nearly a decade ago — with flights between New York-JFK and New Delhi (DEL) taking off on Oct. 31, followed by much-anticipated service between Seattle (SEA) and Bangalore (BLR) on Jan. 4, 2022.
To provide additional feed beyond the two metropolises, American will codeshare with IndiGo, one of India's leading low-cost carriers, on 29 domestic routes. This way, American can offer a slew of one-stop itineraries to appeal to travelers heading beyond the large cities and help expand AA's catchment in the country.
For IndiGo, the codeshare will help fill seats on its domestic flights, and bring its name to a new market. IndiGo CEO Ronojoy Dutta said in a statement that "we are confident that this will be a strong partnership that will create many opportunities for trade and tourism through IndiGo’s seamless nationwide connectivity."
Additionally, American's AAdvantage loyalty members can earn miles when traveling on IndiGo codeshares. First- and business-class travelers on AA's long-haul flights can relax in one of IndiGo's partner airport lounges before their domestic connection.
However, since IndiGo is a low-cost carrier, the airline's planes are outfitted in an all-economy configuration, meaning that premium-cabin passengers will need to connect in coach to their final destination.
United's partnership with Airlink
United Airlines is busy expanding in Africa. With new nonstops from Newark to both Cape Town and Johannesburg, along with service from Washington/Dulles to Accra and Lagos, the airline is beefing up its presence in the continent.
To fuel its expansion there, United is teaming up with Airlink, a Johannesburg-based airline that connects smaller towns and cities in southern Africa with larger hubs like Cape Town and Johannesburg.
By adding more than 40 one-stop, codeshare itineraries, United flyers can now book flights to popular destinations in the Kruger National Park, nearby private game reserves and other harder-to-reach destinations in Africa.
In addition to the codeshares, MileagePlus frequent flyers can both earn and redeem miles when they travel on Airlink flights, allowing you to piece together a bucket-list award itinerary that could even include a stopover with United's Excursionist Perk.
Interestingly, United already has an existing partnership with South African Airways through the Star Alliance. However, the flag carrier of South Africa was grounded for nearly 18 months, and hasn't been able to provide feed to United's long-hauls since the outset of the pandemic.
So, despite its existing partnership, United clearly wanted to diversify its Africa connectivity, which is solid new option for travelers, though it might strain its existing relationship with South Africa's largest airline.