Low-fare airline Jetstar plans to start a code share partnership for New Zealand with US heavyweight American Airlines.

Jetstar Group chief executive Bruce Buchanan said an interline agreement would make booking flights simple, with American Airlines issuing tickets for the total journey including Jetstar.

"[Code share] is where actually American Airlines treat it as their flight, so they actually market and sell it as an American Airlines flight ... and it actually appears in all of their internal marketing and distribution as an American Airlines flight," Buchanan said.

"Our proposed code share agreement with American Airlines will enable its customers to combine travel on Jetstar, American Airlines and other code share carriers such as Qantas as part of a single booking."

The interline agreement would cover the entire Jetstar network and was expected to go live in the next week or so, while the code share applied only to the New Zealand domestic network, was subject to regulatory approval and could start in four to six weeks' time.

As part of the code share, an American Airlines code would be placed on Jetstar domestic New Zealand services between Auckland, Christchurch, Wellington and Queenstown across five routes totalling up to 116 weekly return flights.

Jetstar's New Zealand domestic network would appear as part of the American Airlines network, although people would not be able to buy tickets from Jetstar that incorporated American Airlines flights.

"You could go out and buy an American Airlines ticket out as well," Buchanan said.

"We started that outbound interlining with Qantas just recently so we're further behind the eight-ball on that. It is something we're working on."

The deal was significant in terms of the inbound tourism market and important in terms of building up the broader network, he said.

"We don't have a strong presence in the US market. American Airlines has a massive traction in that market place, one of the largest frequent flyer programmes in the world, significantly dominated in the US region."

Coming to New Zealand had become a hell of a lot easier for the US market, Buchanan said.

"Instantaneously we know there's many many thousands of passengers that are already waiting for this type of service that are really important for the New Zealand economy."

The US was the third largest international tourism market in terms of visitor arrivals for both Australia and New Zealand and was worth more than $530 million a year to the Kiwi economy, he said.

The code share agreement, which had been worked on for a couple of years, would be the third for Jetstar, including arrangements with parent company Qantas and Japan Airlines.

Jetstar, which had 14 interline agreements, generated about 20 per cent of passenger volume across its entire network through airline alliances.

American Airlines manager Australia & New Zealand Michael Fletcher said the company's frequent flyer programme had more than 50 million passengers.

"So you've got a very large customer base there of people that want to use their advantage miles in various ways around the world."

Studies showed Australia and New Zealand were always high on the list of places to where people wanted to travel, Fletcher said.

He said the airline already code-shared with Jetstar's parent company Qantas and the link up with the low-fare carrier was a natural fit.

JETSTAR CODE SHARE
* American Airlines will treat Jetstar's domestic New Zealand flights as their own.
* American Airlines' frequent flyer programme has more than 50 million passengers.
* US visitors are worth $530 million a year to the New Zealand economy.
* Agreement is subject to regulatory approval and could be in four to six weeks.