American Is Discontinuing Codeshare Agreements With Etihad & Qatar

Filed Under: American, Etihad

Update: American Airlines is restoring their codeshare with Qatar Airways in 2020, but it looks like they may cut ties with Etihad.

Well, I at least have to give American credit for having somewhat of a spine here. For a couple of years now the “big three” US carriers and the “big three” Gulf carriers have been in a dispute over Open Skies, and about the role of government subsidized airlines in such an agreement.

The lobbying groups for the US carriers have shamed any business that dares to do business with the Gulf carriers, which seems ironic, since American partners with both Etihad and Qatar.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m thrilled that American partners with both Etihad and Qatar, as it’s a great opportunity to earn and redeem American AAdvantage miles. However, it’s spineless to publicly trash them while also continuing to do business with them, and it’s even worse to shame companies that do business with those airlines when you do as well.

It looks like American is at least somewhat putting their money where their mouth is. View from the Wing notes that American will be discontinuing their codeshare agreement with Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways as of March 25, 2018:

In light of our ongoing dispute over the Open Skies agreements, American Airlines notified Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways on June 29 of our decision to terminate our codeshare relationships.

Given the extremely strong public stance that American has taken on the ME3 issue, we have reached the conclusion that the codesharing relationships between American and these carriers no longer make sense for us.

This decision has no material financial impact on American and is an extension of our stance against the illegal subsidies that these carriers receive from their governments. We are committed to doing everything we can to continue to support our team members and ensure that there is fair competition between American and the Gulf carriers.

I respect American for making this decision, even if I’m sad to see this development. Note that American isn’t discontinuing their frequent flyer partnership with Etihad or Qatar, so you can continue to earn and redeem miles for travel on those airlines. At least that’s the case as of now.

The one catch is that while you can earn American redeemable miles for all Etihad flights, you can only earn American elite qualifying miles for travel on codeshare flights operated by Etihad. So with this change it will no longer be possible to earn AAdvantage elite qualifying miles for travel on Etihad.

If American did choose to discontinue either of these partnerships completely, it would be a huge negative for the AAdvantage program, given how little access members would otherwise have to many destinations in the Middle East, India, Africa, etc. This is especially true now that the partnership between Jet Airways and American is being discontinued.

Bottom line

Presumably there’s a minimal financial impact here, and this is more a symbolic move than anything. This fits American’s narrative that the Gulf carriers are evil, and gives American a symbolic way to show that they’re distancing themselves from these airlines.

Customers who travel on Etihad and Qatar can continue to earn and redeem AAdvantage miles, they just can’t book an American codeshare on those flights.

Like I said, I can’t help but respect American for doing this, as much as I think it’s a negative development.

What do you make of American’s decision to cut codeshares with Etihad and Qatar?

  1. I was worried about my advantage miles being worthless thanks for writing this up Lucky!! I really do appreciate your knowledge!

  2. “Well, I at least have to give American credit for having somewhat of a spine here” really, after over two years of lambasting the Gulf carriers will continue to codeshare?? 🙂

    AA says the financial impact is not “material” which is a technical term that could still be a very significant amount just not in relation to the overall size of the business. So it may be more than “minimal.”

  3. Does Qatar realize that without AA they will have literally no traffic to the US? Places like PHL can’t support a flight to Doha with no connections on one side.

  4. I am not sure that they can cut the frequent flier partnership with Qatar unless one of them leaves OneWorld. I doubt that either is going to do that anytime soon.

  5. @Davis

    The absence of codeshares won’t result in an inability to ticket a flight such as CAK-PHL-DOH. In fact, since Qatar is part of Oneworld, this has virtually no real world impact.

  6. What if I have an existing ticket on Etihad metal but with AA 001 ticket stock with AA code-share number, flying next year after March 25th 2018?

  7. Etihad is probably going to join Skyteam. With Jet getting closer to Delta and breaking its ties with American now for Indian airlines we have Air India in Star and Jet-Etihad moving towards Skyteam. Emirates the other big Indian airline (yeah they are based in the gulf but they run on basically traffic from India) may be headed towards Oneworld. I am waiting for an Emirates American tie up to be announced.

  8. Will Emirates become a Oneworld member?
    Does that mean that we will be able to use ex. qatar miles for an emirates ticket?
    And does that means we will be able to use miles and more for ethiad tickets?
    (so complicated – still a newbie).

  9. So basically….”I want to break up with you but we can still hang out as friends with benefits.”

  10. @Lucky Is it still possible to put a EY/QR flights on one award ticket given the current situation?

  11. JetBlue codeshares with all three gulf carriers. Gulf carriers don’t need US Legacies providing connections. I’d rather fly JetBlue than American before a EK leg and so would everyone else. Anyone who says otherwise needs to be checked for sanity unless they are AAdisadvantige elites. I predict Emirates pulls out of LAX and enters Long Beach within five years.

  12. This isn’t respectable. It’s a sign of the times. Obama didn’t go for the US3’s arguments, but with the Trump administration they have a more sympathetic ear. I just think American sees an opening to finally get something tangible against the ME3 (i.e. restrictions until they comply with the spirit of open skies). They are positioning themselves. It would look foolish if some sort of sanction was placed and AA was still in bed with two of the three. It would’ve been respectable if they did it a long time ago.

  13. These American airlines are THE WORST. I couldn’t care less if they all went bankrupt.

  14. Weren’t the code shares with QR and EY lucrative for AA because of the “Fly American Act” which requires gov’t paid travel and cargo to be on U.S. carriers? I had several friends who work for the U.S. gov’t fly on “American” to South Asia with a stop in DOH or AUH! The big winner from AA ending code shares is going to be JetBlue! All those gov’t paid trips are going to be on JetBlue code shares now!

  15. You know, a lot of people supposed after the AS & AA news that it was perhaps “mutual”. I would guess at this point that it’s American blowing up their entire partnership strategy and that maybe they were the ones who went to Alaska and didn’t want to be partners anymore.

  16. I’m not sure there is anything “spine-y” or “respectful” that AA did here. In fact, if at all, they are finally inching, nay millimetering, towards not being the giant hypocrite that they are. They have been blowing the bugle against ME3 for a long time, yet being all paly and cozy with them when it provided them an advantage. It’ll be interesting to see how they stack up otherwise now.

    Full disclosure, I’m a DL elite and I’m happy with DL’s strategy for Asia overall by pursuing two routes – KLM/AF/Jet on the Europe side and China3 & Korean (improving) on Pacific side. This helps me avoid ME3 airlines or the horrible BA anytime.

  17. Good riddance. I just hope one day American will finally offer better premium products and compete with the rest of the world.

  18. It’s ironic how the us airlines go on about subsidies when they’ve all been more or less bankrupt and got out of it via Chapter 11 at one time, which to me feels like a subsidy/ get out of jail free card. Maybe if the US3 provided service and hard product equivalent to the ME3 do, then the playing field would be more level. Even in lucky last post he said united’s new Polaris won’t be complete for another 4 years?!!!!! All my experiences on delta, American and united have been on old, dirty planes with awful seating, poor food and average service. They need to stop whining and improve their product to compete at a global level

  19. @Craig….Yes, the U.S. Big Three hide their own subsidies in bandages of soft illusion. This way they can blame everyone else for their sub par product other than themselves, their unions, and the crap product they put out.

  20. Etihad and Qatar were losing money doing business with American anyway so yeah that’s a good idea for American to leave. Why? Well American was selling same tickets on QR and EY metal for far less than what QR and EY would charge. Especially in First and business class.

    No more cheap first class tickets on EY that’s for sure. Lots of people used to fly EY A380 first class on American tickets.

  21. Wonder if all this recent activity opens the door for a re-kindled relationship between AA and El Al. If I remember correctly, you used to be able to use AAdvantage miles to book El Al tickets, but no more. Or could be two totally unrelated issues. Maybe someone more knowledgeable can chime in?

  22. Conway, you are correct. This will be pretty bad for people who were able to use the AA/EY and AA/QR codeshare so they could comply with the Fly America Act. So getting to Pakistan and other parts of Asia will be a bit tricky for govt employees and contractors. JetBlue will definitely be reaping the benefits from the code-share with Emirates.

  23. I have a bunch of Etihad miles that came from TY points. I was going to use them with Brussels, but that died a quick death. My backup was to use them over on AA at the old mileage rate. Guess I better get something booked there pretty quickly before that goes away.

  24. American is keeping its interlining agreement intact with both QR and EY. So in effect, you can keep flying to different destinations with automatic baggage transfer on a single itinerary. So folks, don’t panic 😉

  25. As someone that is based in Qatar, I wonder how this would affect mileage benefits using AAdvantage. THis is my primary program and out here in Qatar, Qatar Airways offers the best times for me for flights unlike BA (one flight only) or LH (one flight only)

  26. Sorry Lucky, but I really can’t understand why you respect AA for this stance, which is based on untruths and huge amounts of self interest. The fact that what they are doing is, I suppose, consistent with their argument doesn’t change the fact that their argument is a bit bogus.

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