American Airlines and Brazil’s GOL will establish a reciprocal codeshare agreement and frequent flyer program partnership. The deal is expected to open 20 additional South American destinations to the AA network and deliver more that 30 US destinations to the GOL route map. As part of the move American also announced a dozen new flights at its Miami hub, the primary gateway to Latin America.
We have a long and rich history in South America, and this new relationship with GOL further enhances our presence in the region. Our customers will continue to have access to places they’ve always loved to travel to on American like Rio, Sao Paulo and Brasilia, and will gain access to new destinations on their wish list. We’ll continue to evaluate our network and seek strategic partnerships that benefit our customers and enhance our network.– Vasu Raja, Senior Vice President of Network Strategy
The move comes as Delta Air Lines and LATAM flesh out details of their planned joint venture and coordinated operations throughout the Americas. As part of that partnership Delta dropped GOL as a partner and LATAM walked away from American and the oneworld alliance. This deal effectively completes the swap, joining GOL and American, though not nearly as tightly as the Delta/LATAM partnership is expected to be.
For American Airlines the new codeshare destinations to be operated by GOL include Asuncion, Paraguay (ASU); Curitiba, Brazil (CWB) and Foz do Iguaçu, Brazil (IGU), pending government approvals. The codeshare overall anticipates connecting seamlessly to 53 flights GOL operates beyond American’s Brazilian gateways at Rio de Janeiro (GIG), Sao Paulo (GRU), Brasilia (BSB), Manaus (MAO), and Fortaleza (FOR).
As two of the leading airlines in Brazil and the U.S., GOL and American Airlines will offer the best experience for customers on the largest number of flights and destinations in the Americas. This will strengthen GOL’s presence in international markets and accelerate our long-term growth.– GOL CEO Paulo Kakinoff
American Grows at Miami
To help support the new Brazilian partnership American Airlines will add a daily 787-8 flight between Miami and Rio de Janeiro during the peak northern Winter travel season of 7 January – 28 March 2021. The carrier also intends to grow a number of domestic destinations for Summer 2020. Nashville, Boston and Houston will each see an additional daily flight while Raleigh-Durham and Tampa will pick up a pair. Orlando will add five additional frequencies, bringing it to a dozen daily flights in each direction.
These dozen new flights come on top of an additional Austin turn and three more JFK trips previously announced for Miami this summer.
The new flights also follow on Delta’s announcement that it will serve four new domestic routes from Miami beginning in May 2020. Three of Delta’s four routes – TPA, MCO, RDU – compete directly with American. The service increases by American to Raleigh-Durham and Orlando exceed the total seats added by Delta and match the frequencies with larger aircraft. In Tampa American will still dramatically outpace Delta on capacity and frequencies as well.
Frequent flyer reciprocity for American, GOL
Beyond the codeshare operations the two carriers also plan to establish reciprocity within their loyalty programs. Details are scarce but the expectation is for future frequent flyer redemption and accrual during the first half of 2020.
At least for now this appears to be a bilateral partnership rather than a push to see GOL join the oneworld alliance. That could change, of course, particularly as LATAM departs the alliance on 1 May 2020. But getting GOL into the fold would likely take longer and might not be worth the effort as the carrier works to stay alive in the competitive Brazilian market. Joining as a oneworld Connect partner, with lower requirements, might be a more beneficial move on both sides.
How much does the new partnership matter?
It is worth remembering that American Airlines played off the loss of LATAM as a partner late last year, suggesting that the revenue impact was de minimis to its operations. In that context the replacement of LATAM with a less impressive GOL network should not be expected to significantly move the needle for American. Still, getting those onward connections back on the map will help American prevent more customer leakage to the Delta/LATAM side, and with a relatively low cost and risk profile.