American Airlines Cuts Ties with Qatar (Oneworld) and Etihad

Around 3 PM today, American Airlines announced that the airline had made the decision to end codeshare agreements with Qatar Airways and Etihad Airways.  Effective March 24, 2018, codeshare tickets will no longer be honored or issued.

American’s codeshare agreements with Qatar Airways and Etihad Airways allowed American Airlines to ticket their passengers on both airlines.  The same went for Qatar and Etihad.  Both airlines could ticket their passengers on American Airlines flights.  Codesharing is when airlines partner with each other allowing passengers from partners to be ticketed on a flight operated by another partner.  Codeshares allow for single itineraries with multiple airlines while not having to re-check checked luggage or worry about delays impacting connecting flights.  Qatar and Etihad’s codeshare agreements with American Airlines gave the airline’s passengers additional options to fly to the United States.

Why Did American Decide to End These Codeshare Agreements?

American Airlines along with Delta Air Lines and United Airlines, have been speaking out against the rapid expansion of three Middle Eastern carriers, Emirates, Etihad Airways, and Qatar Airways.  Those three Middle Eastern airlines are heavily subsidized by the governments of the countries from which they operate.  The US3 (American, Delta, and United) claim that the ME3 (Emirates, Etihad, and Qatar) price their flights well below what would allow an unsubsidized airline to fly profitably.  According to the US3, those government subsidies are what allow the ME3 to continue to expand throughout the Americas, Europe, and Asia.American stated the following

American stated the following about ending the codeshare agreements,

As you know, codeshare relationships change as market conditions change. And, in light of our ongoing dispute over the Open Skies agreements, we have notified Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways of our decision to terminate our codeshare relationships.

Given the extremely strong public stance that American has taken on the issue of Middle East carriers and their government subsidies, we have reached the conclusion that the codesharing relationships between American and these carriers no longer make sense for us. We see the decision to terminate as an extension of our stance against the illegal subsidies that these carriers receive from their governments. We are committed to doing everything we can to continue to support our team members and ensure that there is fair competition between American and the Gulf carriers.

In recent months, tensions between the ME3 and US3 have re-escalated with Qatar Airways making on offer to buy 10% of the shares of American Airlines and the CEO of Qatar Airways calling US airlines ‘crap’ and claiming only ‘grandmothers’ work for US carriers.

American Airlines will still ticket passengers on Qatar Airways during irregular operations as part of the Oneworld alliance interlining policy.

More to Come  (Updated: 4:37 PM CST)