American Airlines and Qantas Receive Final Approval on New Joint Venture

Forbes 7/21/2019

AAA World Article

A joint venture long in the works between Fort Worth, Texas-based American Airlines and Qantas, the flag carrier of Australia, has finally been approved by the Department of Transportation.

Initially filed in 2016, the joint venture application initially aimed to bring operations at American Airlines and Qantas closer together. Under terms of the agreement, the two carriers planned to jointly operate some routes, codeshare on others and push operations together in a variety of airports around the world. Additionally the airlines teased that loyalty benefits like mileage earning could improve for frequent flyers while all passengers would get better access to partner airline seats and fares.

The initial joint venture originally hit the skids when Hawaiian, a carrier that also operates a wide range of transpacific flights, raised protest with the DOT. In February of 2018, with the United States under a new administration in the White House, American and Qantas reapplied for the joint venture under new terms with hopes for a speedy approval. That deadline eventually slipped to 2019 and then was finally tentatively approved early last month. Now, the two carriers have finally received full approval.

American and Qantas, of course, have long been linked within the Oneworld alliance, the same group that British Airways, Qatar Airways and Cathay Pacific call home. In general, that partnership allows passengers to earn and redeem frequent flyer miles on either carrier, check bags through on connecting flights, share lounges and extend some other loyalty benefits across the network.

This month's joint venture is effectively an extension of the relationship already in place between the two carriers. While the full details of the venture still haven't been shared, new routes on the two carriers between Australia and the United States could open, Qantas and American could start to share more airport resources like gates and ground crews and passengers could see the number of frequent flyer miles earned on respective flights go up.

Already, the two carriers have plans for two new routes from Australia to the United States. According to a release from Qantas last month, the carrier plans to launch a route from Brisbane to Chicago and another from Brisbane to San Francisco by the end of April, 2020. Each of those flights will be operated on one of the carrier's new Boeing 787-900 Dreamliner aircraft, though with a modest presence in San Francisco and a hub in Chicago, American's presence will help ease the flow of passengers in from Australia to connecting destinations within the United States. Now, with a joint venture officially coming into place, more connections between American and Qantas are likely.

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