The US Department of Transportation (DOT) has officially granted final approval for Qantas to commence its Joint Venture with American Airlines. It follows the tentative approval which was given last month for coordination on trans-Pacific flights between the United States and Australia & New Zealand.
The final approval paves the way for Qantas to launch new, non-stop flights from Brisbane to San Francisco and Brisbane to Chicago. The routes will be served by Boeing 787 Dreamliners in partnership with American Airlines. The two routes will launch by the end of April 2020. Qantas says that tickets will be available for sale “soon”, once the schedule is finalised.
According to Qantas, the alliance will also unlock “more destinations, reduced travel time, lower fares, and additional benefits for frequent flyers”. This will include Qantas offering “QF” codeshares on American Airlines’ flights between Sydney-Los Angeles and Auckland-Los Angeles.
During the review process following tentative approval being given, JetBlue was the only airline to publicly comment. JetBlue did not take a position on whether approval should be given, but noted the importance of provisions to lessen the impact of reduced competition when granting anti-trust immunity to airlines. The airline expressed concern about 86% of market share on trans-Pacific routes being controlled by just three airline alliances. JetBlue also said that approval should only be given for five years – a view dismissed by the DOT.
Most of JetBlue’s comments were general in nature and appear to have been given in the context of the trans-Atlantic market, given JetBlue’s announcement it will soon begin flying to London. Indeed, the airline’s comments even included a complaint about a lack of slots at London’s Heathrow Airport. JetBlue does not fly to Australia or New Zealand, nor does it plan to do so.
JetBlue’s comment did not result in any changes to the US DOT order, which remains as it did when tentative approval was granted.
Qantas and American Airlines will be required to begin the Joint Venture within six months, and to submit a self-assessment and review of the alliance to the US government after seven years.
Join the discussion on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum: US DOT Grants Tentative Approval to QF/AA Joint Venture