NEW YORK (AP) — The CEO of JetBlue Airways Corp. expects closer ties with partner airlines, including American.

JetBlue has so-called code-sharing deals with 23 airlines, mostly foreign ones. In most cases, JetBlue sells tickets on the other airline's flights as if they were JetBlue flights, and the two share the revenue. JetBlue wants more partners to reciprocate by selling seats on JetBlue flights.

JetBlue also has a partnership with American Airlines on a few dozen routes. "We look forward to deepening and expanding the relationship with American Airlines," said CEO Dave Barger said at a JPMorgan Chase conference Monday. He didn't provide details.

American parent AMR Corp. has agreed to merge with US Airways Group Inc., which would make the new American stronger in the same East Coast markets where JetBlue thrives, such as New York, Boston and Florida.

JetBlue is expected to soon release February traffic numbers, and Barger said they would be "even weaker than we expected," partly because families canceled trips when Superstorm Sandy caused schools to scrap plans for winter breaks.

Barger said March is shaping up as "very strong," helped by Easter and most of Passover falling in March instead of April this year.

Unlike most of its bigger rivals, JetBlue is adding flights. The New York-based carrier expects to boost seats by 7.7 percent in the first quarter over the same period last year.

Shares of JetBlue rose 19 cents, or 3.1 percent, to $6.34 in afternoon trading.

 

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