American Airlines: left hand ends Etihad, Qatar codeshares. Right hand interlines, hopes for deal

Premium Analysis

Since the US big three legacy airlines started their anti-Gulf airline campaign American Airlines has been conflicted, and participated half-heartedly. Although American joined Delta and United in their rhetoric, American not only kept, but grew partnerships with Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways. American reportedly even came close to a Gulf airline JV and placing its metal in a Gulf hub.

The recent disclosure that American has ended its codeshare agreement with Etihad Airways and fellow oneworld airline Qatar Airways may appear finally to tick the needle over and put management firmly in the anti-Gulf camp.

Yet American remains as conflicted as before. The ending of codeshares is the work of American Airlines' bad cop. The good cop is retaining interline and frequent flyer agreements. Although the partnership is weakened, by retaining parts of it American does not want to isolate itself and is keeping a Gulf airline deal open.

At the same time, Gulf airlines and a pro-Gulf US airline coalition – FedEx, JetBlue et al – are increasing their calls that the US legacy airlines are being anti-competitive and threatening the US economy and jobs.

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