A Tale of Three Airlines? Growing links among JetBlue, Azul, TAP, all connected to David Neeleman
JetBlue and Azul, the Brazilian airline run by former JetBlue CEO David Neeleman, are hammering out interline agreements that would let passengers start a trip on one airline and finish on the other on a single itinerary—which means their bags would do the same, without re-checking.
It's a common practice for airlines that are strong in one area and lack connections in others, and in this case, it would give Azul, which has only one U.S. destination (Fort Lauderdale) access to JetBlue's whole range of U.S. destinations, many of them with direct flights to and from Fort Lauderdale.
In return, JetBlue would gain access to Azul's Brazil destinations; Azul is Brazil's #3 carrier, but has more destinations than some of its competitors. The deals could eventually lead to codeshare arrangements, allowing passengers to travel on a single ticket for the whole trip. Azul also has agreements with United, which recently bought 5% of Azul's shares.
JetBlue operates primarily as a U.S. domestic carrier, but has been building an extensive network in the Caribbean and parts of Latin America. Azul, and Neeleman, have other international irons in the fire; in June, an investor group led by Neeleman took control of Portuguese flag carrier TAP, buying 61% of the shares. TAP has 12 destinations in Brazil, and potentially gives Azul connections to nearly all of Europe via Lisbon.