American and Qantas have submitted a new joint venture
application to the Department of Transportation (DOT).
The move comes more than a year after the Obama administration
turned down the carriers' previous effort to obtain antitrust immunity to
jointly market, schedule and operate flights between the U.S., Australia and
In a joint statement Monday, the carriers said that the
joint venture would increase competition in the U.S-Australasia aviation
marketplace while unlocking more than $300 million in annual consumer benefits,
including discounted fares, expanded fare classes and more codesharing.
"The joint business will also give American and Qantas
the opportunity to launch additional routes between the U.S. and Australia and
New Zealand, including new flights to city pairs currently not served by either
carrier," the statement reads. "An expanded relationship will
encourage 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'
In blocking the American-Qantas joint venture application in
November 2016, the DOT said such a partnership would be too powerful in the
U.S.-Australasia marketplace and would therefore have the effect of reducing
The agency blocked the American-Qantas joint venture even
though it had previously granted antitrust immunity to ventures between Delta
and Virgin Australia and between United and Air New Zealand.
In their application to the DOT, American and Qantas said
that the rejection of the joint venture in 2016 had led them to scale back
service offerings. For example, American has made its Los Angeles-Auckland
A rejection of this application, the airlines said, would
result in American slashing their number of domestic U.S. routes that it
codeshares with Qantas on from 125 to just 27.