JetBlue is planning to sell seats on short, semi-private flights along the West Coast, another move focused on well-heeled travelers.
The New York-based airline announced a code-sharing agreement on Monday with JetSuiteX, a sister company of JetSuite, a California-based private jet company in which JetBlue has invested. CNBC first reported the news earlier Monday.
JetBlue will sell seats aboard JetSuiteX planes on its website JetBlue.com, using JetBlue's airline code. Travelers may be more familiar with code shares between large international airlines, such as Delta Air Lines and Air France-KLM, or British Airways and American Airlines. JetSuiteX offers what is known as public charters.
JetBlue, which started out as a low-cost, leisure-focused airline, has steadily gone after higher-paying customers. The airline has expanded its Mint premium cabin, which offers lie-flat beds, to more transcontinental routes. The new agreement will allow JetSuiteX to distribute seats more broadly, through JetBlue's website.
JetBlue's flights to the West Coast will not immediately connect to JetSuiteX's, whose 30-seat planes depart from private terminals and smaller airports. JetSuiteX offers daily service from Burbank to several other California cities, including San Jose and Oakland, as well as to Las Vegas.
Connecting to larger western U.S. airports that JetBlue serves could come with challenges, such as higher costs and more crowded facilities, which may defeat the allure of flying from a private terminal, said Henry Harteveldt, a former airline executive and founder of research firm Atmosphere Research Group. He added that a limited number of flights may encourage some business travelers, whose plans often change, to select larger airlines.
A round-trip ticket in May between Burbank and Oakland on JetSuiteX showed up as $276 on JetBlue's website on Monday, compared with a starting price of $190 on American for a route that includes a stop in Phoenix.
JetSuiteX says it operates more than 750 flights a month. JetBlue, in comparison, says it averages 925 flights a day. JetSuite is planning to move to the Dallas-Fort Worth area over the summer and is planning to expand its operation after a new round of investment from JetBlue and Qatar Airways.
The company also offers pop-up service to events like the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival.