Regulators in the US have granted “tentative approval” to a proposed joint-venture partnership between Qantas and American Airlines. The two airlines re-filed their application to form a joint business in February last year after their first application was rejected by the US Department of Transportation in 2016.
The carriers are touting the JV as offering an array of benefits to passengers including new route launches to Chicago and San Francisco, more optimized schedules and even higher miles-earning rates. Qantas and American Airlines had warned that they may be forced to reduce some of their services and axe others altogether – notably Sydney-Dallas/Fort Worth – should the new application fail to get approval.
The DOT’s tentative go-ahead is a positive sign for the two carriers, although a final decision is expected to be rendered in the coming weeks.
“This joint business means we’ll be able to deepen our partnership to offer new routes, better flight connections and more frequent-flyer benefits,” said Alan Joyce, Qantas Group CEO.
Both airlines have stated that a joint business would enable them to launch a number of new routes, some of which would connect new city pairs not currently offered by either carrier. Among these are Brisbane-Chicago and Brisbane-San Francisco, both of which would be operated by Qantas. Schedules on transpacific services would also be optimized to improve connection times and make more connection options available.
These changes would also enable passengers to have better access to more seats, resulting in lower fares, the carriers claim. Additionally, the two carriers’ frequent-flyer tie up would be expanded to include higher earning rates than are currently offered as part of their mutual membership of the Oneworld airline alliance, along with “increased redemption opportunities and improved reciprocal end-to-end recognition of our top-tier frequent flyers.”
Finally, the airlines have stated their intention to co-locate at airports, and further invest in their lounges, baggage systems and other infrastructure aimed at improving customer experience.