Etihad Airways PJSC, the third-biggest Gulf carrier, said it signed a code-share deal with New York-based JetBlue Airways Corp. allowing it to sell tickets on 40 of the U.S. carrier’s routes pending government approvals.
Etihad will add its code to 38 flights beyond John F. Kennedy airport and two at Washington Dulles, providing links to most major U.S. cities, it said in a statement today. Further code-shares are planned on JetBlue services from Los Angeles, which the Abu Dhabi-based carrier will serve from June.
Gulf airlines are targeting North America as they seek to extend their intercontinental reach, with Etihad last week announcing a second daily flight to New York. It also serves Chicago, as well as Washington, and will commence operations to Dallas-Fort Worth starting in December.
Etihad Chief Executive Officer James Hogan said that the U.S. is “a major and growing market” for his company. Hogan said last week that he’s also looking for purchases in the Americas -- as well as China -- to round out a strategy of buying stakes to help funnel traffic through the Abu Dhabi hub.
Dubai-based Emirates, the biggest Gulf carrier and the largest in the world by international traffic, currently serves eight U.S. destinations, according to its website, and already has a code-share tie-up with JetBlue. It also connects to New York via Milan, allowing it to transport European passengers to the U.S. and Americans to Italy
The JetBlue deal will also allow Etihad to place its code on flights from New York to Colombia, Jamaica and three locations in the Dominican Republic, pending U.S. and foreign governments approvals.
JetBlue CEO David Barger said in April that the discount carrier, which is premiering a new premium offering this year, will introduce one or two two-way code-share agreements as it expands international ties to feed flights. Today’s release didn’t mention reciprocal cose-sharing on Etihad services.