MIAMI — American Airlines (AA) has surprisingly restored the codeshare agreement it once had with Qatar Airways, until its cancellation three years ago.
The previous codeshare agreement between both carriers was abruptly canceled in 2017, following the tense dispute between US carriers and its Middle Eastern counterparts over allegations of illegal subsidies by their governments.
“In light of our ongoing dispute over the Open Skies agreements, American Airlines notified Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways on June 29 of our decision to terminate our code-share relationships,” said the Dallas/Ft. Worth-based carrier in 2018.
“Given the extremely strong public stance that American has taken on the ME3 issue, we have reached the conclusion that the code-sharing relationships between American and these carriers no longer make sense for us. This decision has no material financial impact on AA and is an extension of our stance against the illegal subsidies that these carriers receive from their governments.”
Today, however, the re-launched codeshare proposes the expansion of the collaboration between both carriers on routes between the US and the Middle East, leaving behind that dispute that axed the agreement both airlines had in place.
It is also likely that American Airlines will ponder launching a nonstop flight from the US to Doha.
“The issues that led to the suspension of our partnership two years ago have been addressed, and we believe resuming our codeshare agreement will allow us to provide service to markets that our customers, team members, and shareholders value, including new growth opportunities for American Airlines,” said AA Chairman and CEO Doug Parker.
Likewise, Qatar Airways CEO, Akbar Al Baker, admitted that his group has “moved on from past issues and look forward to working closely with American Airlines to build a world-leading partnership for all our customers.”
Al Baker admitted being “pleased to secure this strategic partnership with American Airlines,” qualifying it as the product of two “successful and ambitious airlines with a shared common purpose to enhance the customer experience.”
“The deal will bring together two of the world’s largest airline networks, increasing choices for millions of passengers and providing seamless connectivity to a significant number of new destinations, in line with Qatar Airways’ successful growth strategy,” said Al Baker.
According to both carriers, this codeshare is now pending regulatory approval. Once cleared, AA will place its code on a number of QR flights between the US and Qatar.
Likewise, the Doha-based carrier will follow suit on routes to the US and some of AA’s connecting flights through its hubs in Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW), Chicago (ORD), New York (JFK), Philadelphia (PHL), Miami (MIA) and Los Angeles (LAX).
“This partnership with Qatar is another step to increase our connectivity while providing more choice and making travel easier and more accessible for our customers,” said Vasu Raja, Senior Vice President of Network Strategy for American.
“As we look to build out a truly global network and create a strong presence in Africa, the Middle East and Asia, the renewed codeshare with Qatar Airways will be one of the cornerstones of making that a reality.”
With the loss of LATAM Airlines as one of AA’s largest partners in Latin America, this move to re-launch a code-share agreement with Qatar Airways helps Doug Parker and company to inject some confidence back into the airline.
On the other hand, with Air Italy’s recent collapse, Qatar Airways needs to find another partner with flights into North America.
Overall, this new codeshare should prove fruitful if both carriers cooperate fully and exploit the markets between both regions at maximum reach.