What American Airlines Is Telling Employees To Walk Back Its War On Qatar Airways

American Airlines and Qatar Airways announced a new codeshare relationship this morning and talked about the possibility of American flying to Doha. This comes after American unilaterally severed its codeshares with Qatar in 2017 as it pursued a political quest to get the federal government to place limits on the Middle Eastern airline’s flying to the U.S.

American made one of the most disingenuous cases I’ve seen in all of politics, and for consistency in making that case they stopped partnering with Qatar except through the oneworld alliance. That meant giving up feed from India, Pakistan and failing to take advantage of feed into Africa. It was a truly ugly, xenophobic campaign.

Partnering again with Qatar is a huge reversal, but after President Obama refused to go along with the American, Delta, and United campaign against the big Gulf airlines President Trump slammed the door on them too.

Nonetheless, Parker has the challenge of reversing course after everything he’s said about the existential threat Qatar Airways posed to his airline. So how is he explaining the flip flop? He penned a letter to employees:

In addition to the recently announced relationships with Gol and Alaska Airlines, today we will be announcing that American and Qatar Airways, a premier carrier and member of oneworld in the Arabian Peninsula will establish a strategic partnership, beginning with the creation of a new codeshare agreement. Following the restoration of the codeshare, American will begin exploring the addition of service from the U.S. to Qatar’s hub at Hamad International Airport (DOH) in Doha.

We can’t announce today’s news with Qatar Airways without acknowledging there have been differences between our airlines. However, during the past several months the dialogue has been good, and we have agreed that we can move forward and begin a new chapter.

Last month marked the two year anniversary of the landmark understanding between the U.S. and Qatari governments to preserve Open Skies. Our previous partnership with Qatar Airways was dormant during this time while we worked to ensure a level playing field in the Middle East for U.S. carriers. We are grateful to the Trump Administration and our bipartisan supporters in Congress for their willingness to protect American workers and pleased with the progress that has been made. While work remains, the issues that existed betwen American Airlines and Qatar Airways have now been addressed.

In other words, we’ve always been at war with Eastasia.

  • American got nothing of value out of its campaign against the Gulf airlines. Qatar agreed to publicly share Western-style financials, and said that though they are permitted to operate fifth freedom flights (such as between Europe and the U.S.) they didn’t intent to at the time.

  • And Trump’s involvement amounted to putting down airline CEO Doug Parker over his company’s share price, before deciding not to take action.

Here’s the full letter:

Parker previously said Qatar Airways flying to the U.S. was bad for American jobs. That was silly – US Airways shed employee pensions in bankruptcy, Parker did nothing to make good on those when the airline returned to profitability. One of the two major issues of contention with its mechanics over the past year was that American wanted more outsourcing.

Still, whatever issues existed before still exist – except American has realized that cutting off partnerships versus exploiting their potential was a counterproductive strategy.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

More articles by Gary Leff »



  1. Oh please…this had more to do with the Air Italy closing that Qatar owned than anything else. That and the big fat monthly rent check Baker sends Parker monthly for using gate and facility space in Terminal 8 at JFK!

  2. @Angelo Cucuzza – Parker says the discussions have been going on for months, if it was tied to Air Italy that would make the narrative easier/better for him. And the T8 rent has been going on for ages, and was only just marginally increased in December

  3. Having worked at Terminal 8 for since it opened at 30 years at JFK Parker told me, (in my official capacity,) to my face that Qatar would NEVER get gate space for that AM flight. Once LATAM left the building and that rent flow shriveled up AA had no choice. The Air Italy MXP route was killing our long held route. To think all I stated is unrelated is nonsense. Go back and tell your inside source that we can have coffee tomorrow in the food court and we can compare notes and talk about their revisionist history.

  4. Gary, I really enjoy reading your blog! You know what makes me like it even more? 1984

  5. The codeshare agreement between AA and QR should never have been terminated. They have corrected that. Plain and simple.

    The same way God forgives and affords us the opportunity to move forward when we err is similar to what happened here. Case closed.

    Quit whining, nitpicking and being so petty. Get a grip and move on!

  6. @Angelo Cucuzza – that’s been completely debunked. Air Italy was perfectly within its rights to fly between Italy and the U.S. QATAR ITSELF WOULD HAVE BEEN WITHIN ITS RIGHTS to do so under the U.S.-Qatar Open Skies treaty.

  7. Forget the ammo, pass the Zantac!

    Parker gives new meaning to Obama’s statement, “You didn’t build that company.” Indeed, but at least we know who’s tearing it down.

    Rather than making the pathetic claim of unfair competition to retain his own monopoly, Parker would have been better to inform the flying public how Qatar finances the declared terrorists, Hamas; is close pals with the rogue state of Iran; and snuggles up close with Turkey, who is intent at the risk of war on disrupting all gas drilling that would benefit Cyprus and Greece.

    Instead, Parker has his apron out to collect subsidies from Qatar. But who would fly AA overseas when their are far better alternatives, especially when miles mean nothing anymore, unless you’re a corporate auditor flying every week?

Comments are closed.