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American Airlines Mends Relationship with Qatar Airways, Extends Codeshare Agreement and Considers Direct Flights to Doha

American Airlines Mends Relationship with Qatar Airways, Extends Codeshare Agreement and Considers Direct Flights to Doha

After rejecting a bid from Qatar Airways to buy as much as a 10 per cent stake in its business in 2017, relations between American Airlines and the Persian Gulf carrier have been particularly fraught. The deepening animosity between the two sides even led Qatar Airways to threaten to quit the Oneworld alliance of which American Airlines is also a member over the dispute.

But in signs of a major thawing of relations between the two airlines, American Airlines today announced it would consider starting non-stop flights between an as yet to be decided U.S. airport and Doha. The announcement followed news that the two airlines will reinstate a codeshare agreement which was suspended two years ago.

Photo Credit: DFW

“This is the first step in building a strategic partnership between the airlines,” a spokesperson for American said, explaining that the deal would increase commercial cooperation between the two sides.

For several years, American has led a campaign against Gulf airlines including Qatar Airways. Through a Washington-based lobby group, a group of U.S. airlines including United and Delta have claimed the likes of Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways have taken advantage of billions of dollars worth of government subsidies.

These subsidies, it’s alleged, have given them an unfair advantage, allowed them to expand into North America at the detriment of U.S.-based airlines and in turn threatens the jobs of hundreds of thousands of American aviation workers.

But American chief executive, Doug Parker says that issues between the two sides have now been resolved without citing what specific issues had been discussed.

“The issues that led to the suspension of our partnership two years ago have been addressed,” Parker explained.

“… 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.”

Photo Credit: Qatar Airways. The bay of Doha, Qatar, by day

“We look forward to the renewed cooperation between our airlines and hope to build an even stronger relationship with Qatar Airways over time.”

Akbar Al Baker, chief executive of Qatar Airways also said the two airlines had “moved on from past issues”. Again, Baker did not comment on specifics of what issues had been resolved.

The often outspoken chief executive has threatened to abandon the Oneworld alliance on several occasions over alleged mistreatment by fellow members – believed to be American Airlines.

In the last week, Qatar Airways announced it had increased its stake in British Airways owner IAG by 3.7 per cent to 25.1 per cent. The move would suggest Qatar Airways will be remaining a member of the Oneworld alliance for the foreseeable future.

American Airlines did not provide a timeline for when a decision on starting flights to Doha might be made.

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