Oneworld partners Qantas Airways and American Airlines plan to make a fresh attempt to secure U.S. approval for their joint venture that would allow both airlines to co-ordinate schedules, cross-sell and share revenue. An earlier application was rejected by the Obama administration in November on competition grounds.
A Qantas spokesperson said that the airlines have carefully reviewed the DoT’s November 2016 Show Cause Order proposing not to grant approval for their original application and, after considering their options, taken the decision to refile in the coming months.
The airlines believe that the DoT’s decision did not take into account precedent, intense competition on trans-Pacific routes, or the benefits that a closer relationship between Qantas and American has already delivered, including two new routes. The new application will underline the full consumer, tourism and trade benefits that would come with anti-trust immunity.
The airlines maintain that the DoT’s November decision is unprecedented, considering that the goal of the US Open Skies policy is to facilitate expanded international passenger and cargo flights to and from the United States and promote increased travel, trade and economic growth by eliminating government interference and providing maximum operational flexibility for airline alliances.
In the meantime, the carriers will scale back areas of cooperation that are not viable without immunity, including the following changes:
- Qantas will no longer codeshare on American Airlines’ services between Sydney and Los Angeles, for new bookings made for travel from 1 February 2017.
- Qantas will adjust its Qantas Frequent Flyer policy with American Airlines to bring it in line with other oneworld carriers from 1 May 2017.
Qantas currently operates more than 39 return services per week between Australia and five destinations in the United States as part of its normal trans-Pacific schedule (with an additional two flights per week between Melbourne and Los Angeles and three per week between Sydney and Vancouver on a seasonal basis).
Qantas recently unveiled its new $30m engineering facility at Los Angeles International Airport, described as one of the largest commercial hangars in North America and the first specifically designed to accommodate the Airbus A380.
The 5.7 hectare site will be used to carry out maintenance checks on Qantas’ A380 and Boeing 747 aircraft during ground time in Los Angeles. It will also have capacity to support Qantas’ new B787-9 Dreamliner when it enters service in late 2017.