American, Qatar begin mending fences with codeshare agreement

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American, Qatar begin mending fences with codeshare agreement

American Airlines and Qatar Airways plan to begin codesharing within the next month, a sign of thawing of the past few years’ frosty relationship between the two carriers.

Pending government approvals, American will put its code on Qatar Airways’ nonstop and connecting flights between Doha and the United States. That would give American customers access to several markets beyond Doha, including some in high demand among corporate travelers, such as Hyderabad and Chennai in India as well as Nairobi and Johannesburg, American Airlines senior vice president of network strategy Vasu Raja said.

“Our corporate customers today are asking about every market in India, especially Southern India, which can be so hard to get to.”

Qatar Airways, meanwhile, would put its code on select flights from American’s hubs in Dallas/Fort Worth, Chicago, Philadelphia, Miami, New York and Los Angeles. Those would include international flights to Europe, the Caribbean, Central America and South America.

The carriers this week will submit paperwork to the U.S. Department of Transportation this week and hope to be codesharing by the end of March, Raja said.

Both Oneworld alliance members, American and Qatar previously had a codeshare agreement together, but American ended that relationship in 2017 amid the long-running dispute between U.S. and Gulf carriers over allegations of Open Skies violations. While the carriers ultimately came to an agreement over that issue, it was reignited when Air Italy, in which Qatar had a 49 percent stake, began expanding its service to the U.S. However, Air Italy entered liquidation earlier this month.

“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,” American chairman and CEO Doug Parker said in a statement. “We look forward to the renewed cooperation between our airlines and hope to build an even stronger relationship with Qatar Airways over time.”

Qatar Airways Group chief executive Akbar Al Baker issued a statement with a similarly conciliatory tone, calling the codesharing “an agreement between two successful and ambitious airlines with a shared common purpose to enhance the customer experience. We have moved on from past issues and look forward to working closely with American Airlines to build a world-leading partnership for all our customers.”

Eventually, American hopes to add its own service between the U.S. and Doha, which Raja said would be “for 2021 or beyond.”

Codesharing with Qatar is the latest step in American’s new focus on building its network to Africa, the Middle East and India, Raja said. That focus includes its announcement earlier this month to begin codesharing with Alaska Airlines in tandem with launching daily service between Seattle and Bangalore later this year. American also established and is building a codesharing relationship with Royal Air Maroc as well as adding service between Philadelphia and Casablanca this summer.

“All across [these regions] are fast-growing markets, but right now, the travel options to them are not great,” Raja said. “This will enable us to provide so much more connectivity.”
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Source: Business Travel News

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