American Airlines and Qantas once again are seeking U.S.
Department of Transportation approval for a joint business agreement, more than
a year after their previous attempt was quashed in the final months of the
This week, the carriers filed for the joint business, saying
it would "improve service, stimulate demand and unlock more than $300
million annually in consumer benefits." American and Qantas would expand
codesharing, offer more fare classes and discounts across one another's
networks and launch more routes and city pairs between the U.S. and both
Australia and New Zealand. It also could lead to "significant improvements
in the overall customer experience, including additional frequent-flyer
benefits and investments in lounges, baggage systems and other infrastructure
designed to better serve the carriers' joint customers."
The carriers have worked together under antitrust immunity
granted by the DOT since 2011. Then, they had no overlapping nonstop
transpacific routes and American had no service to Australia. Expanding that
alliance would include coordinating pricing and schedules and sharing revenue
and would require additional approval. The airlines applied for that approval
in June 2015, and the
DOT rejected it in November 2016. The carriers are hoping for different
results under the Trump administration, which in November approved
a joint business agreement between Delta and Korean Air.
Australia and New Zealand regulators approved the joint
business agreement in its previous filing.
In their joint statement, the carriers said they would have
to cut back on codesharing and flights if the U.S. does not grant approval this
time. That could include reducing capacity or canceling altogether Qantas' A380
service between Sydney and Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport and
American's service between Los Angeles and each Auckland, New Zealand, and Sydney.