(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) Emirates, one of the world's fastest growing airlines, and JetBlue Airways, New York's hometown airline, announced on Wednesday a move to expand their current partnership to include bilateral code-sharing.
The expansion is pending regulatory approval and subject to receipt of foreign government operating authority, both carriers announced. Emirates' move to boost ties with JetBlue was close on the heels of a decision by the New Zealand Minister for Transport to approve the Dubai-based carrier's partnership with Qantas.
Under the new agreement with JetBlue, the US carrier would place its "B6" airline code on all flights currently operated by Emirates between the US and Dubai International Airport, as well as between New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport and Milan.
The expansion move is the latest step in a three-year partnership between JetBlue and Emirates. Emirates started placing its code on select JetBlue-operated flights in April 2012, expanding an interline agreement that dates back to 2010.
Current codeshare routes offered by Emirates on JetBlue-operated flights cover 28 destinations including Boston, Chicago, Orlando and Puerto Rico. Since March this year, Emirates also began placing its code on additional JetBlue routes, including Bridgetown, Barbados, Cancun, Mexico, Montego Bay, Jamaica and Santo Domingo, Santiago and Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.
"Through the existing agreement, customers enjoy the convenience of a single combined ticket for Emirates and JetBlue-operated flights, plus other benefits including one-stop check-in and baggage transfer," the airlines said in a statement.
Members of Skywards, the Emirates reward programme, can earn miles on JetBlue-operated flights and also redeem miles for flights to any of JetBlue's 77 destinations throughout the Americas.
Similarly, members of JetBlue's TrueBlue loyalty programme can earn points for Emirates-operated flights worldwide.
"As Emirates continues to expand its presence in the US market, our partnership offering with JetBlue provides customers with convenient connections from its extensive network to our seven US gateways, including our twice daily A380 service non-stop from JFK to Dubai," said Thierry Antinori, Emirates' executive vice-president of passenger sales worldwide.
Offering a boost to tourism and more convenience for inbound travellers, the codeshare also gives Emirates' customers a new choice of destinations with the benefit of a single combined ticket, according to Antinori.
"Putting our code on another airline is a significant milestone for JetBlue; we're proud to do it with Emirates, a fantastic partner for JetBlue over the past years," said Robin Hayes, JetBlue's chief commercial officer.
Passengers travelling in first class and business class on Emirates-operated flights, as well as Skywards Platinum and Gold members, have access to the Emirates Lounge at JFK. Premium passengers, including Gold and Platinum Skywards members, will also have access to lounges at the other Emirates gateways, including the dedicated Emirates' lounge in San Francisco.
Welcoming the decision by New Zealand to approve Emirate-Qantas tie-up, the two allies said their partnership would provide New Zealand customers with stronger links to Australia, Europe, the Middle East, North Africa and the UK, as well as frequent flyer benefits and world-class travel experiences.
Qantas and Emirates applied for authorisation of the partnership in September 2012 under the Civil Aviation Act. President of Emirates Tim Clark, said the game-changing partnership would bring together two of the world's best airlines and offers some of the highest quality travel experiences.