American Airlines says it has been forced to temporarily sever its codeshare agreement with partner carrier Cathay Pacific because the Hong Kong-based airline has restarted flying through Russian airspace.
Cathay Pacific confirmed that it intended to begin using Russian airspace again several days ago after suspending Russian overflights in March after the break out of the war in Ukraine.
The first flight from New York JFK to Hong Kong using the shorter so-called ‘Polar Route’ over Russia departed on Tuesday, November 1 and the flight time was slashed by more than two and half hours to 14:45hrs, compared to 17:24hrs the day before based on data provided by Flight Radar 24.
Flights from Hong Kong to New York JFK continue to operate over the North Pacific and across the continental United States with flight times averaging about 15 hours.
Nonetheless, American Airlines must abandon its codeshare with Cathay Pacific on this route because of the use of Russian airspace.
Under orders signed by President Biden back in March, U.S.-based airlines are prohibited from flying through Russian airspace and this includes codeshare flights whereby the flight number of one airline is attached to a flight operated by another carrier.
Codesharing is one of the most common business agreements between airlines, and it allows an airline to market and sell flights that they don’t actually operate. This, in turn, allows airlines to offer a broader selection of trips within a combined ticket.
As noted by Gary Leff at View from the Wing, American Airlines has informed staffers that the codeshare agreement on the New York JFK – Hong Kong has been indefinitely suspended.
On Sunday, Cathay Pacific said cost and payload implications had pushed a change of heart on avoiding Russian airspace. In a statement to Bloomberg, the airline said: “There are other major airlines overflying Russian airspace and there are no sanctions which prevent Cathay Pacific overflying Russia”.
“The Polar Route provides a safe, direct and the fastest flight experience to our customers traveling from the East Coast of North America to Hong Kong,” the statement continued.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.