Air France / KLM / Delta may soon make a JV with Jet Airways

This has been a long time coming thing, but somehow it is still in the air. Jet Airways has been, sort of, a complimentary partner for KLM/Air France, who have been operating flights to India off and on for years. Jet Airways and Air France codeshare on daily flights from Mumbai to Paris, one taking the day flight, and other the night departure.

Delta used to fly to Mumbai from New York/Detroit/Atlanta (I’ve lost count where all they changed origins from), via Amsterdam. They discontinued service to Mumbai a while back.

Jet Airways, on the other hand, put a hold on international expansion earlier and adopted a new tack where it moved closer to the 3 SkyTeam Alliance Airlines. Earlier this year, they moved out of Brussels (after pondering over the years) and moved into Amsterdam, where they now operate flights from Mumbai and Delhi. The Mumbai – Amsterdam sector is going to get a B77W later this year, while Delhi-Amsterdam will get a B77W early next year. Beyond that, Jet Airways killed its flights to New York (it used to operate one to Newark and New York JFK each) and San Francisco over a period of time, and as a result now does not have any connectivity onto the US of A on its own metal as of now.

Jet Airways’ instead partnered with Delta/KLM to offer flights to 11 stations in the US & Canada from its changeover point in Amsterdam. However, they haven’t had a frequent flier partnership since 2012 when Delta terminated it.

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Like you see, this had all the makings of a Joint Venture, and a Joint Venture has been talked about for years. However, it now seems that all of it might all be falling in place over the next months. As per Business Standard:

Jet Airways is negotiating a joint venture (JV) agreement with Air France-KLM to expand its commercial co-operation with the European airline network.

The report further states:

According to airline sources, Jet signed a memorandum of understanding with Air France-KLM about two weeks ago to form a JV. The proposed JV will cover routes in India, Europe and North America but finer details are still to be worked out, sources added.

Jet Airways also fine-tuned the timing of its Mumbai – Paris flight to be able to offer further connections from Paris. The new flight time is:

9W124 BOM0245 – 0820CDG A333 D
9W123 CDG1130 – 0040 (+1) A333 D

This now means the flight leaves shortly after the flight of Air France from Mumbai, which leaves at 02:10 AM and starts the flight back at 10:50 AM to Mumbai. This opens up many additional possibilities for Jet Airways to be able to connect passengers on Delta and Air France onwards to North America. As per a Delta release:

Jet Airways will codeshare on Delta’s complete offering from and to 13 destinations in North America via Paris-Charles de Gaulle namely Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Cincinnati, Detroit, Minneapolis, Newark, New York, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Raleigh-Durham, Salt Lake City and Seattle.

Jet Airways will also, subject to government approvals, codeshare on Air France’s flights to 12 destinations in North America, including: Atlanta, Boston, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, San Francisco, Washington in the U.S.; Vancouver and Montreal, Canada; and Mexico City, Mexico.

This does not stop at Paris however, the partnership in Amsterdam will increase as well:

Through Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, Jet Airways will codeshare to nine additional points between North America to Amsterdam operated by Delta and KLM, bringing the total to 19 points.  The additional destinations include: Atlanta, Boston, Detroit, Miami, Minneapolis, Portland, Salt Lake City, Seattle, and Mexico City, Mexico.

Subject to government approvals, Jet Airways will also codeshare to 10 cities within the U.S. operated from and to Delta’s U.S. hubs to the following destinations – Austin, Charlotte, Columbus, Denver, Las Vegas, Orlando, Phoenix, San Diego, St. Louis and Tampa

Full Frequent Flyer Mileage Reciprocity on the cards

Hidden in the fine print, Delta also states that SkyMiles & JetPrivilege will start to offer the ability to have network-wide, reciprocal mileage earning & redemption privileges.

Bottomline

While there is news still in the air that Jet Airways could possibly get back to the American shores with a B77W direct service to New York, and a fly East service via Shanghai (again?), along with addition of more routes to Amsterdam or Paris, this joint venture, if it is happening, totally makes sense to all parties. Essentially, this will see Jet Airways/Delta/KLM-Air France share all the costs and revenues on these flights (Air France to Mumbai and KLM to Delhi included), and since all the costs and revenue are being shared, it does not matter whose plane flies because all the flights are coordinated on the network, schedules and prices. However, it does require the blessings of the governments of the various countries as well.

Endgame will be Jet Airways/Skyteam trying to collaborate against the United/Lufthansa JV. I wouldn’t understand however why would Jet Airways not just go ahead and join Skyteam already given their closeness to some of the major players in SkyTeam.

What are your thoughts? Do you think this Joint Venture happens anytime? Or is it just going to be another time with an expanded commercial partnership?

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Comments

  1. Good write-up, Ajay. I too have been wondering, after reading about 9W’s strengthening relationship with Skyteam members, why 9W doesn’t go ahead and join Skyteam. Afterall, Alitalia, one of the biggest in EAP, is a Skyteam member since long. The issue here could be the EY’s ownership (part) of 9W and JP and the existence of key EY executives in 9W’s board, all put together, acting detrimental to 9W’s chances of joining the alliance in question.
    After getting cockblocked from joining Star Alliance, thanks to AI, and BA doing the heavy lifting for One World in India, 9W’s best shot at being part of a major alliance is with Skyteam alone now and there is no question about success if it ever becomes a reality. Till then, we can do nothing but wait on the sidelines and watch, I guess.

  2. You make a great point about Jet not joining SkyTeam. I think the downside for them is that way too many people will redeem miles from other programs for 9W flights than 9W miles for partner airline miles. That would either take away award space from JP members or revenue seats from Jet especially on business class. And I would imagine lounge use would spike because though JP elites are a very small percentage of Jet customers, they are in absolute numbers still sizeable.

    • Great comment, Rishabh. I can’t agree more with you on the effects of joining the alliance on availability of awards. The biggest issue, however, will be matching the award criteria of the alliance. Given the redemption requirements on 9W, JPmiles can now be amassed quite easily. But, once they become part of a major alliance, 9W will be forced to lower JPmiles needed for international redemptions by as much as 50% on many sectors. That would severely destabilise JP as we know it.
      On the other hand, joining an alliance can be very fruitful to 9W provided codeshare and partner networks are leveraged well particularly through 9W’s in-house ticketing engine. As of now, 9W’s ticketing engine downright sucks at both displaying partner options as well as pricing on partner connections.

  3. This is a great news for a frequent US to India traveler like me. But does by any chance this mean, Jet is loosening its ties with Etihad? Or now I would just have more options to select between Abu Dhabi, Amsterdam and Paris?

  4. I really hope there is full frequent flyer reciprocity – I have status with Delta thanks to work travel and it’d be nice to take advantage of it when flying to visit family!

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