Decision on QF/AA Alliance enters final phase

EXCLUSIVE: DOT's review of JBA "now substantially complete"

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Qantas and American Airlines have been given notice by the US Government that its response to their proposed Joint Business Agreement and request for antitrust immunity is imminent.

The US Department of Transportation this morning informed the carriers that its records are “now substantially complete”. The DOT said that having now been supplied additional intel, everything is “in order to establish a complete record with the substantive information needed to allow the Department to evaluate the case on its merits”. The response comes after details were delivered to the US Government on 29 August and 11 October.

As LATTE exclusively revealed in early September, that sought-after information clearly indicated Qantas’ plan to add Chicago as a new destination in the United States, likely to operate from Brisbane. In the partially redacted submission, Qantas and American Airlines indicated that a Chicago hub would offer 96 codeshare destinations for the Australian flag carrier.

Today, the DOT said: “We have finished our initial review of the application and all supporting materials submitted by the Joint Applicants.”

The Trump Administration has now provided a procedural schedule for public comments, requiring answers to be filed with 21 calendar days after the date of issuance, and advising that replies will be required to be submitted no later than seven business dates after the last day for filing an answer.

In late February 2018, the Australian and US airlines sought permission for a tighter alliance, which would include revenue sharing on flights between the United States and both Australia and New Zealand. At that time, Qantas and American said that if their latest request for antitrust immunity be knocked back, it could result in QF dropping services to Dallas/Fort Worth and American Airlines withdrawing its flights to Sydney. The oneworld member partners would also look to windback their current codeshare alliance.

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