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What the Qantas-American Airlines joint venture could mean for passengers

Posted: 27 February 2018 11:34 am

There are promises of cheaper fares and new city pairs between Australia and the US.

Qantas has announced plans for a new joint business venture with American Airlines that will see the two airlines offer better co-ordinated services and more discounted fares.

Under the proposed arrangement, a revision of an earlier proposal that was rejected by US competition authorities, Qantas and American Airlines will offer more codeshare flights and will also offer a wider range of discount fares on each other's services. Qantas's announcement says it will also introduce "new flights to city pairs currently not served by either carrier" in Australia, the USA and New Zealand, though it didn't offer details on which cities would be covered. (Can we have a direct Sydney-Las Vegas service eventually, please?)

No word yet on whether this will lead to changes in how to earn points through both airlines, but we'll keep you posted.

The arrangement will require approval by regulators in both countries, and a previous 2016 application was bounced by the US Department of Transportation. The announcement includes what amounts to a veiled threat of what would happen if approval isn't forthcoming:

If the joint business is not approved, American and Qantas will have no choice but to further reduce codesharing on their networks. This will jeopardise the number of services and routes each carrier flies between the US and Australia and New Zealand. For example, Qantas may be forced to reduce the frequency of, downgauge or potentially cancel its A380 service between Sydney and Dallas/Fort Worth, and American may further reduce its services between Los Angeles and Sydney and Auckland. These routes rely on codeshare support from each airline’s feeder network via their respective hub cities to be economically viable.

Qantas and American Airlines have long been partners through the oneworld alliance, and for a time Qantas was the sole operator for oneworld on the Australia-US route. In recent years, American Airlines has reintroduced its own services between the US West Coast and Australia.

There have also been other changes to Qantas's US flights announced recently, with flights to New York to be routed through Brisbane and will use newer Dreamliner aircraft.

Qantas extended its global partnership with Emirates last year, but also made a number of changes including routing the key Sydney-London connection back through Sydney.

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