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Wiley Rein Helps Obtain Tentative DOT Approval for Qantas’ Joint Business with American Airlines

June 4, 2019

Washington, DC— On behalf of client Qantas Airways Limited, Wiley Rein LLP helped persuade the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to grant tentative approval yesterday for Qantas and American Airlines to operate a joint business to better serve customers flying between the United States and Australia and New Zealand.

Qantas noted today in a news release that final approval of the joint business will allow for commercial integration between the two carriers, delivering new routes and significant customer benefits not possible through any other form of cooperation, including:

  • The opportunity to launch new routes and flights to new destinations, including to city pairs not currently served by either carrier.
  • An expanded codeshare relationship and optimized schedules on trans-Pacific services, opening up more connections to more destinations and reduced total travel time.
  • Better access to seats on each carrier’s network, leading to lower fares.
  • Additional frequent flyer benefits by further integrating the carrier’s programs, including higher earn rates for points on each other’s networks beyond what is possible today through the Oneworld Alliance, as well as increased redemption opportunities and improved reciprocal end-to-end recognition of our top-tier frequent flyers.
  • Co-location at airports, investments in lounges, baggage systems, and other infrastructure designed to better serve the carriers’ joint customers.

Qantas is represented in the DOT proceeding by Scott Weaver, chair of Wiley Rein’s Public Policy Group. Mr. Weaver is a former senior-level Capitol Hill staffer and also previously served as Vice President of Government and Political Affairs at the Airports Council International-North America.

As part of the case put to the DOT, Qantas and American Airlines flagged an intention to launch several new routes within the first two years of the proposed joint business. Qantas said it expects to announce details of two new routes – Brisbane-Chicago and Brisbane-San Francisco – once final approval is received.

“As was evident in the unprecedented level of public support for this application, the joint business will also create additional jobs at our respective companies and in the industries we serve,” said American Airlines Chairman and CEO Doug Parker. “We thank Secretary Chao and the DOT for their careful consideration and look forward to final approval in the coming weeks.”

“Both airlines submitted a compelling proposal to the DOT that would bring significant benefits to millions of travelers and a boost to tourism,” said Qantas Group Chief Executive Officer Alan Joyce. “For more than 30 years, Qantas and American have connected the U.S. and Australia as partners. This joint business means that we’ll be able to deepen this partnership to offer new routes, better flight connections and more frequent flyer benefits.”

A final decision from the DOT is expected after a 14-day comment period.

Wiley Rein’s Public Policy Group helps clients achieve their goals in Washington by combining technical expertise and high-level advocacy with the legal resources of a national law firm. With more than 240 lawyers available to assist our efforts, the Group is an industry-leading advocate for trade associations, startups, publicly traded companies, and small and large businesses that operate in areas including transportation, telecommunications, health care, energy, and international trade. The Group has worked closely with members of Congress in both parties, members of the Executive branch, and numerous federal agencies.