Qantas will apply once more to the US authorities for an expanded joint venture deal with American Airlines, in a move that could boost benefits for Qantas Frequent Flyer members: such as through improved earning rates for points and status credits on AA flights.
The airlines have previously applied to the US Department of Transportation for permission to more closely collaborate on flights between Australia and the United States, including new routes such as Sydney-San Francisco and Auckland-Los Angeles, but the DoT tentatively denied that application in late 2016.
In early 2017, Qantas reacted by cutting points, status credits and codeshares for passengers travelling with AA: preventing passengers from booking AA’s Sydney-Los Angeles flights in conjunction with Qantas journeys through the Qantas website.
“If you want any café or restaurant recommendations around DoJ or DoT headquarters, I can tell you, given the amount of time we’re spending there at the moment,” Qantas Group Executive Government, Industry & International Affairs Andrew Parker quipped at the CAPA Australia Pacific Summit in Sydney.
“We just think that the consumer case for this application is very strong… the fact that American Airlines has come to Auckland, we’ve gone to San Francisco, they’ve come from Los Angeles into Sydney with their own metal: it would not happen without our deep partnership.”
Speaking of Qantas’ changes to the partnership, Parker adds that “I think it’s a real reminder of what happens when decisions like these are taken (by the DoT): in other words, there are consequences… and there have been some changes to the relationship since we were rejected.”
“But we’re very confident… we have to be patient, but we’ll get there.”
Meanwhile, Qantas’ separate five-year partnership with Emirates on flights to the Middle East, Europe, Asia, New Zealand and parts of Africa – which allows Qantas to sell Emirates flights and coordinate on benefits, pricing and frequent flyer points – is up for renewal in the coming months.
The airline has recommenced that approval process with the ACCC, although the agreement won’t cover Qantas’ upcoming Perth-London flights due to government restrictions which prohibit UAE-based carriers from selling non-stop flights between Australia and the United Kingdom.