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American and Qantas implement joint venture

American Airlines and Qantas have implemented their joint venture, designed to streamline transpacific travel and open the opportunity for new routes between North America and Oceania.

The airlines announced the joint venture’s launch, which was approved and given antitrust protection by the US Department of Transportation in July, in a document submitted to the DOT on 1 November.

The cooperation agreement between the Oneworld alliance partners calls for the carriers to coordinate pricing, sales, planning and other business functions on flights between North America and Australia and New Zealand.

During the application process, American and Qantas positioned the venture as enabling them to more effectively compete in a market largely controlled by two existing airline joint ventures: Delta Air Lines' deal with Virgin Australia and United Airlines' agreement with Air New Zealand.

American and Qantas first submitted their proposal in 2015 but withdrew that request after the DOT denied the deal based on competitive factors. They refiled their application in February 2018, saying they would do more to increase capacity, reduce travel times and improve competition, DOT documents show. The airlines said the economic benefit of their collaboration could be up to $310 million annually.

In July following the joint venture’s approval, American’s chief executive Doug Parker said the airlines “now have the opportunity to launch new routes and provide enhanced service with better schedules, additional frequent flyer benefits and continued investments in the overall customer experience”. He added that the airlines intend to add new flights between North America and Australasia in the coming years.

Earlier this year, the Australian flag carrier said it plans to launch flights from Brisbane to Chicago and San Francisco as a direct result of the joint venture’s approval. These flights will begin by April 2020 and will be operated on Boeing 787-9s.

In late October, American said it will launch nonstop seasonal service from Los Angeles to Christchurch, New Zealand as well as nonstop seasonal direct flights between Dallas-Fort Worth and Auckland, New Zealand. Both of these connections, to begin in October 2020, are a direct result of the joint agreement with Qantas, the airline said. American will also use Boeing 787 variants for these routes.

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