Speaking to Simple Flying’s Jay Singh in an exclusive interview last week, American Airlines Chief Revenue Officer, Vasu Raja, stated that the reignited codeshare agreement with Qatar Airways had performed beyond the airlines’ wildest expectations. While demand has never been lower, the connectivity value for those who travel has never been higher, Mr Raja stated.
American Airlines says the codeshare agreement with Qatar has turned out better than either airline could have expected. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying
Operating more than anybody
American Airlines and Qatar first announced their new ‘strategic partnership’ in February 2020. Meanwhile, the first codeshare flights took off in May. The roll-out meant Qatar Airways codes would be on over 1,000 of American’s domestic flights. American placed its code on select Qatar flights to the US but also from the Gulf carrier’s hub in Doha to destinations across the Middle East, East Africa, South Asia, and Southeast Asia.
The reestablished services began as a means for American to grow its connectivity to India, in preparation for the carrier to eventually launch its own routes to the country. However, a thing unfolded in early 2020 known as a pandemic, and the codeshare agreements took on a different quality.
“Suddenly, for the most part, the two largest carriers in the world were Qatar Airways and American. We operated more than anybody, and we offered just a tonne of conductivity. And through it, they helped us bring a lot of services back in places like Chicago, even Dallas-Fort Worth. We helped them go from flying once a day to twice a day, three times a day in some markets,” Mr Raja stated.
Together, Qatar Airways and American have provided unparalleled global connectivity during the crisis. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying
The only way to travel
With demand at an all-time low, and so many airlines having canceled so many long-haul routes – either due to non-profitability if not supported by cargo demand, or due to restrictions – the worldwide connectivity we once took for granted has been hard to come by. Mr Raja continued,
“Really the only way that people could go and visit family, relatives, do business, things like that in many parts of the world was through connection for American Airlines, Qatar Airways. (…) The demand has never been so low. The value we provide to the customers that fly has probably never been greater because, in many ways, it was the only way to go.”
American Airlines previously ended its codeshare agreement with the Gulf carriers after a row over state subsidies. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying
Second time’s a charm?
Qatar Airways has now become one of American’s largest codeshare partners, eclipsed only by JetBlue and Alaska Airlines. The two carriers have partnered before. However, American ended its codeshare agreement with both Qatar and Etihad due to a dispute over alleged state subsidies granted to the Gulf carriers.
Qatar Airways stepped away from its plan to acquire 10% of American the same year. The Doha-based airline even threatened to withdraw from the oneworld alliance as a result of the argument. However, all that seems to be in the past now, making way for what American calls an ‘instrumental’ partnership.
What do you think of the future of the partnership between American and Qatar? Leave a comment below and let us know.
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