November 28, 2016 / 11:32 PM / 3 years ago

American Airlines, Qantas end bid to grow partnership

Nov 28 (Reuters) - American Airlines Group Inc and Australia’s Qantas Airways Ltd have dropped their bid to coordinate prices and flight schedules, according to a filing submitted to the U.S. Transportation Department on Monday.

The decision comes after the department tentatively denied the airlines’ request earlier this month. Air travelers would have few remaining competitive options if the alliance were expanded, “given the scale of the resulting joint business,” the Transportation Department had said.

The carriers submitted their application in June 2015, several months before American started flights between the United States and Australia. The partners had been marketing flights on routes that the other did not offer, and requested immunity from U.S. antitrust law in order to coordinate their operations going forward.

The existing “codeshare” marketing arrangements remain in place, Qantas said in a statement.

Explaining the reason for the application withdrawal, American said, “When the Department of Transportation issued its (tentative ruling) it was clear it would take longer than the 14 days they gave us to respond, and the DOT refused to give us an extension to fully demonstrate the benefits of our position.”

The airlines said they were disappointed with the U.S. decision. They maintained that their enhanced alliance would have benefited consumers and pointed to the approval for other airlines to coordinate prices on flights between the United States and Australia.

The carriers will now consider their positions separately before determining their next move, Qantas said. (Reporting by Jeffrey Dastin in Los Angeles and Tom Westbrook in Sydney; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

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