Oneworld partners Qantas and American Airlines are seeking regulatory approval in the U.S. and Australia to operate a transpacific joint venture with antitrust immunity.

The airlines' announcement comes three days after the U.S. tentatively approved an immunized Australia-U.S. venture between Delta and Virgin Blue Group.

Star Alliance partners United and Air New Zealand, the second-largest partners in the Australia/New Zealand-U.S. market (AA-Qantas is the largest) have not applied for antitrust immunity.

AA and Qantas propose joint pricing and planning of flights between the U.S. and Australia/New Zealand, and beyond to other countries. The carriers want to include packager AA Vacations in the joint venture.

The airlines are promising an increase of flight frequency and an improvement in connection times. There also will be "increased opportunities" to earn and redeem frequent flyer points, said Qantas and American.

"By strengthening and broadening further our cooperative business partnership with Qantas, American will be better positioned to deliver enhanced benefits to our joint customers," said Virasb Vahidi, American's chief commercial officer. "Qantas is one of our longest-standing and most highly valued partners, and together we are creating a new joint platform from which to launch significant growth in air travel between North America and the South Pacific."

Qantas offers 41 roundtrips per week between Australia/New Zealand and the U.S., including 33 to Los Angeles. American said the ability to coordinate with Qantas would enable American to expand its operations at Los Angeles to other destinations "given the benefit of network flow."

In March, Qantas and American announced a codeshare expansion, increasing the number of destinations Qantas offers beyond Dallas-Fort Worth to 54.

On May 16, Qantas will begin operating four flights per week to Dallas-Fort Worth, and American will place its code on those flights. AA has already placed its code on Qantas services between Brisbane and Adelaide, Canberra, Cairns, Melbourne and Perth.

Qantas said it expects Australian regulatory authorities to take six months reviewing the application.

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