Qatar Airways, American Grow Partnership Following New JFK-Doha Service

American Airlines started regular service to Doha from New York this past weekend. The flight will operate daily with a Boeing 777-300ER aircraft. This marks the first time the airline is flying to Doha and its latest service to the Middle East along with Delhi and Tel Aviv.

American has attempted to aggressively expand its international network but has been severely hampered by delivery delays of Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner aircraft. The flight to Doha is one of the many that American had announced but one of the few that is able to launch given the delivery delays.

Regular flights to Doha however are a strategic move the airline has made with its alliance partner Qatar Airways. American Airlines has steadily strengthened ties with Qatar Airways and this move shows a commitment to the partnership. There were some concerns initially with the route announcement about the viability of the route since Qatar already offers twice-daily service to JFK.

The route announcement did come as a surprise to many since it’s been quite some time since a U.S. carrier has had regular service to the United Arab Emirates or Qatar. Previously, there were no significant codesharing agreements to help funnel traffic from the Americas to Doha and beyond.

It was recently announced that the two airlines are taking a big step in strengthening their partnership by entering into a new codeshare agreement that allows American Airlines passengers to book Qatar Airways flights from Doha to 16 new countries. The 16 new countries are Ethiopia, Indonesia, Kenya, Malaysia, Maldives, Oman, Pakistan, Seychelles, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Thailand, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

American terminated its codeshares with Qatar in 2017 due to a long-running dispute between the big three U.S. airlines and the Middle Eastern carriers over Open Skies violations. This was then settled and codeshares resumed in 2020 and have just been further expanded in light of the Doha service.

As the world begins to live with the pandemic, it is refreshing to see a return of international expansion and cooperation. In 2020, the world saw a significant curtailing of international travel due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It returned in some form in 2021 but even now flights haven’t returned to pre-COVID levels. It’s unlikely that we’ll see the level of interconnectivity across the globe that we were used to for quite some time, especially in Asia.

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