American Airlines and Qatar Airways have signed a codeshare agreement that will see the carriers increase their commercial cooperation.
American ended its codeshare partnerships with both Qatar Airways and Etihad in 2017, amid an ongoing dispute regarding alleged state subsidies given to the major Gulf carriers.
Qatar Airways dropped a plan to acquire 10 per cent of American Airlines the same year.
Qatar CEO Akbar Al Baker has previously threatened to leave Oneworld over the row, and speculation that the airline might withdraw from the alliance has persisted.
“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,” said American Airlines CEO Doug Parker.
Pending government approval, the agreement will see Qatar Airways’ passengers able to book travel on American Airlines’ domestic flights departing Boston, Dallas, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, New York and Philadelphia, and as well as on international flights to and from Europe, the Caribbean, Central and South America.
American Airlines passengers will be able to book travel on all Qatar Airways flights between the US and Qatar, as well as destinations across the Middle East, East Africa, South Asia and Southeast Asia.
American Airlines said in a statement that it was the “first step” in a new strategic partnership, and that it would begin exploring the addition of service from the US to Doha.
Al Baker commented: “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.”
While both carriers are members of the Oneworld airline alliance, American Airlines (along with Delta and United) has long accused Qatar Airways of receiving state subsidies that give it an unfair competitive advantage.
The dispute flared up again last year, when the US airlines accused Qatar Airways of using its 49 per cent stake in Air Italy to flout a deal not to add new flights to the US market.
Air Italy was placed into liquidation earlier this month. Qatar Airways suggested it was willing to continue to support the struggling airline, but the majority shareholder – a holding company owned by the Aga Khan – was not willing to put more money in.
Qatar Airways part-owns various airlines, including five per cent of China Southern, 10 per cent of LATAM, 9.99 per cent stake of Cathay Pacific and, as of last week, 25.1 per cent of International Airlines Group (parent company of British Airways, Aer Lingus and Iberia)
Last week it was announced that Alaska Airlines intends to join Oneworld in 2021, which the group said in a statement that it welcomed.
Meanwhile, American Airlines has strengthened its partnership with Alaska Airlines, adding the ability to earn and use miles on both airlines’ full networks, elite status reciprocity, and lounge access to American Admirals Club lounges and Alaska Lounges.