About a month ago, Qatar Airways decided they would not invest in American Airlines. This came, according to them, because the airline’s financial performance made it an unwise venture. I think it was because American was becoming too close to the Trump administration and would be able to fight the Open Skies agreement with the Middle East. American, Delta and United have been fighting the Middle East Big 3 on the Open Skies agreement. The US airlines argue that the ME3 are being subsidized by their governments, the ME3 argue that they offer better competition and it’s healthier for the market. I side with the ME3, and consider that the US Big 3 do not take the whole picture into account, looking only at what is convenient for them.
This entire debacle peaked with American Airlines ending their codeshare relationship with Etihad and Qatar Airways. This has led to both carriers having a major gap in their US service. Qatar Airways has been operating a small codeshare service with jetBlue, which kept them with some coverage. After the American Airlines spat, it seems Qatar is warming up to jetBlue.
Qatar Airways’ jetBlue Codeshare Expanded
Qatar Airways is trying to increase their reach within the US via their partners jetBlue. The most recent expansion is based in Boston. Currently, Qatar Airways flies to Boston once a day on their state of the art A350. By expanding their codeshare with jetBlue, they will be able to feed more passengers to their flight, and to jetBlue’s flights. jetBlue operates a hub in Boston, recently announcing flights to Atlanta. The routes are mostly to places where American flies to from Boston. Among these are Los Angeles, Phoenix, Washington-Reagan, New York-LGA and Pittsburgh. They will also codeshare flights to Newark and Baltimore.
jetBlue Is Playing the Field
I am very surprised that jetBlue is getting away with playing the field. The airline has been expanding. For example, they added flights to Atlanta recently, a Qatar Airways destination. There is one major issue, however. They have a very strong codeshare relationship with Emirates, to the degree that Emirates flies to Ft. Lauderdale instead of the more connected Miami. With Qatar trying to find a new partner in the US, jetBlue may be torn between Qatar and Emirates. I think that in the end, jetBlue will partner with Qatar. Qatar is still looking to invest in a US airline, and I think that jetBlue would be a good investment for Qatar. jetBlue recently lost their connection to AirBerlin. They had planned to partner, but after AB declared insolvency, the plan was abandoned.
I am glad to see jetBlue strengthen their codeshare agreement with Qatar. Qatar needs to up their presence in the US without American. They are still forced to cooperate because they are in the oneWorld Alliance. This is one of the reasons I still value airline alliances. Without them, American Airlines consumers would have lost all access to Qatar Airways. Qatar Airways will likely look for a new strategic partner in Canada, and I expect them to partner with WestJet. I strongly believe, though, that the US Big 3 need to grow up and compete with the ME3. Their crying to the FAA and the government will only lead to increased prices, and poor customer service, as we see today. Hopefully this issue will be resolved before the end of the year.
What do you think? Are you happy to see Qatar strengthen their partnership with jetBlue? Do you think Emirates will get upset by this development? Let us know!
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Images from Wikimedia.