PHILADELPHIA- Flag carrier Qatar Airways (QR) CEO Akbar Al Baker recently participated in an interview with CNN’s Richard Quest. In the interview, it was noted by the aviation industry site Enilria that the CEO of Qatar Airways mentioned the exchange of routes between Philadelphia (PHL) and New York JFK with American Airlines, as we have previously discussed.
However, it’s worth noting that neither of these airlines holds legal antitrust immunity or schedule coordination authority for such actions. This raises questions about whether this could be considered an admission of violating U.S. anti-trust law.
Qatar Airways US Flight
During the interview, Al Baker expressed Qatar Airways’ interest in expanding its presence in more U.S. destinations.
He discussed the airline’s relationship with American Airlines (AA) and Alaska Airlines (AS). Al Baker mentioned the desire to bring their cooperation to a higher level, provided that regulatory authorities permit such actions.
He also mentioned the possibility of obtaining anti-trust immunity with American Airlines.
It’s important to note that although Al Baker referred to filing for anti-trust immunity, there is no official record of such an application.
While Qatar Airways and American Airlines have developed a partnership since February 2020, and their cooperation intensified in 2022, they have not formally filed for a joint venture with U.S. authorities.
Swapping Flights with American Airlines
Interestingly, the interview did not touch upon the topic of American and Qatar Airways swapping operations, where Qatar Airways announced its decision to cease flights to Philadelphia and add a third New York flight.
In contrast, American Airlines simultaneously announced its plans to stop flying to New York JFK and commence operations from Philadelphia.
As of now, these two airlines do not have anti-trust immunity to coordinate their flight schedules. There has been speculation regarding Qatar Airways making an investment in American Airlines.
Still, the absence of anti-trust immunity remains a key consideration in such discussions, with Al Baker suggesting that they are awaiting regulatory decisions on a non-existent application.
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