American and Kingfisher announce codeshare and frequent flier partnership

India’s Kingfisher Airlines continues to deepen its member-elect relations with the oneworld alliance. Along with alliance founder American Airlines, it has announced entering in to a code-share and frequent flier program relationship due to commence in 2011.

This agreement finally gives Kingfisher its long awaited access to the US market, one of the biggest destination markets for Indian travellers.

The initial phase of the code-share relationship announced today will allow American to place its AA airline code on Kingfisher’s domestic India network beyond New Delhi, and on Kingfisher’s Airlines’ flights from London Heathrow to New Delhi and Mumbai. Kingfisher will place its IT airline code on selected American flights between London Heathrow and US destinations (New York JFK, Chicago O’Hare, Los Angeles LAX, Dallas-Fort Worth, Miami, and Raliegh-Durham) and on American’s five year old daily non-stop flight between New Delhi and Chicago O’Hare. Read the detailed application to the US Dept. of Transportation Docket Number 2010-0288 (PDF format), and read this article on for full details on specific sectors.

Initially, members of American’s AAdvantage and Kingfisher Airlines’ King Club frequent flyer programs will be able to earn miles on the codeshare flights. The two airlines are exploring a more comprehensive frequent flyer agreement that will include the ability to earn and redeem miles across each carrier’s network.

What has been left unsaid in this announcement is the impact on the existing code-share and frequent flier program relations American Airlines has with India’s Jet Airways. American places its AA airline code on Jet Airways’ flights between India and Brussels while Jet Airways places its 9W airline code on American flights Between New York (JFK) Baltimore, Boston, Cleveland, Dallas-Fort Worth, Raleigh-Durham and Washington DC (DCA), and on the same Delhi Chicago non-stop that Kingfisher has announced it will code share on.

It is quite inconceivable that American will have both Jet and Kingfisher place their airline code-shares on their Delhi-Chicago flights. Bangalore Aviation attempted to contact all three airlines to clarify the situation. Both Jet Airways and Kingfisher did not comment, while a request is still pending with American and will be updated if received.

While one can understand that Kingfisher would not want to comment on behalf of American, from an analyst perspective, a lack of response from Kingfisher is compelling. If Kingfisher is already allowing a dilution of its proposed partnership with American, to its primary India competition, Jet, it will give anyone a reason to seriously doubt the cost-benefit ratios the alliance membership accruing to Kingfisher viz-a-vis to what it will have to give up.

About Devesh Agarwal

A electronics and automotive product management, marketing and branding expert, he was awarded a silver medal at the Lockheed Martin innovation competition 2010. He is ranked 6th on Mashable's list of aviation pros on Twitter and in addition to Bangalore Aviation, he has contributed to leading publications like Aviation Week, Conde Nast Traveller India, The Economic Times, and The Mint (a Wall Street Journal content partner). He remains a frequent flier and shares the good, the bad, and the ugly about the Indian aviation industry without fear or favour.

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