Did Jesus intend to reference the Esau/Jacob reunion story, and if so why?
Jesus did not intend to reference the Esau / Jacob reunion story in His parable.
Every similarity is not a reference.
The Prodigal Son is better titled "The Love of the Father" because the whole point of the story is that the father (God) looks for and offers forgiveness beyond what the son (sinners) deserve.
The Esau / Jacob story is a reunion between brothers who are estranged. The point of this story is that God answered Jacobs prayer for protection (see passage below), God kept His promise to Abraham and God furthered His salvation plan through Jacob.
9 Then Jacob prayed, “O God of my father Abraham, God of my father Isaac, Lord, you who said to me, ‘Go back to your country and your relatives, and I will make you prosper,’ 10 I am unworthy of all the kindness and faithfulness you have shown your servant. I had only my staff when I crossed this Jordan, but now I have become two camps. 11 Save me, I pray, from the hand of my brother Esau, for I am afraid he will come and attack me, and also the mothers with their children. 12 But you have said, ‘I will surely make you prosper and will make your descendants like the sand of the sea, which cannot be counted.’”
The stories are similar in that there is a warm welcome where it was not expected.
The situations are different and the intent of the stories is different.
It is best to infer connections or references only when the Bible specifically makes the connection.