American Airlines has had a change of heart and has now signed a strategic partnership with the fellow Oneworld Alliance member Qatar Airways.
American Airlines plans to place its code on select Qatar Airways flights from the United States to Doha and beyond, while Qatar will place its code on select American Airlines flights. AA is also exploring options of flying to Doha on their own metal.
Here’s the announcement from AA:
American will begin exploring the addition of service from U.S. to Doha; immediate benefits include increased connectivity and creation of new travel options for customers
FORT WORTH, Texas — American Airlines has renewed its codeshare agreement with Qatar Airways, a premier carrier and member of the oneworld® alliance in the Arabian Peninsula. This is the first step in building a strategic partnership between the airlines that will increase commercial cooperation, bolster connectivity and create new travel options for customers. Following restoration of the codeshare, American will begin exploring the addition of service from the U.S. to Doha.
“Our goal is to continue to expand and deepen our global partnerships to complement American’s network and create more choice for our customers,” said American’s Chairman and CEO Doug Parker. “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. 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 His Excellency Mr. Akbar Al Baker said, “We are very pleased to secure this strategic partnership with American Airlines — an agreement between two successful and ambitious airlines with a shared common purpose to enhance the customer experience. The deal will bring together two of the world’s largest airline networks, increasing choices for millions of passengers and providing seamless connectivity to a significant number of new destinations, in line with Qatar Airways’ successful growth strategy. 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. This agreement will harness our complementary strengths and resources and enable more customers to experience Qatar Airways’ award-winning product quality.”
Pending government approvals, American will place its code on select Qatar Airways nonstop and connecting services to and from the U.S. and Qatar Airways’ hub in Doha, allowing American’s customers to access new destinations in the Middle East, East Africa, South Asia and South East Asia that are not currently served by American. Qatar Airways will place its code on select flights beyond American’s hubs in Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW), Chicago (ORD), New York (JFK), Philadelphia (PHL), Miami (MIA) and Los Angeles (LAX), as well as on American’s international flights to and from Europe, the Caribbean, Central America and South America.
In addition to American exploring the addition of service from the United States to Doha, both airlines will discuss new ways to further their partnership through expanded commercial cooperation that will enable long-haul growth for both airlines.
“This partnership with Qatar is another step to increase our connectivity, while providing more choice and making travel easier and more accessible for our customers,” said Vasu Raja, Senior Vice President of Network Strategy for American. “As we look to build out a truly global network and create a strong presence in Africa, the Middle East and Asia, the renewed codeshare with Qatar Airways will be one of the cornerstones of making that a reality.”
American Airlines and Qatar Airways had a spat a few years ago when Doha placed airline announced its plan to buy a stake in American but was shown a cold shoulder.
Akbar Al Baker, the CEO of Qatar Airways, made some disparaged comments of the American Airlines flight attendants (called them grannies) at an industry conference that didn’t help.
American Airlines was part of consortia that was blaming the Gulf governments of prepping up their airlines (Emirates, Etihad, and Qatar Airways) financially that would have lead to unfair competition. American Airlines, however, has long partnered with both Etihad and Qatar Airways.
Akbar Al Baker has threatened multiple times that the airline was evaluating its Oneworld Alliance partnership and could leave. This is weird; however, considering that they have stakes in Cathay Pacific, IAG (the parent of British Airways, Iberia, Aer Lingus, and Vueling), and LATAM (exiting Oneworld on May 1).
The depressed state of American Airlines share price and losing LATAM to Delta (all the connectivity within South American gone), perhaps made Doug Parker (CEO of American) to rethink their strategy when it comes to the airline partnerships. It wouldn’t surprise me if Qatar is now welcomed to make its equity investment.