American Airlines Provides Update on Single Operating Certificate and Reservations System Integration

By Paul Riegler on 6 August 2014
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An American Airlines plane at JFK

An American Airlines aircraft at the gate at JFK

American Airlines Group provided an update on its integration of American Airlines and US Airways.

The carrier harmonized “most of our fees and our frequent flyer award structure” in the second quarter, according to Scott Kirby, the airline’s president.  In addition, it added day of departure reciprocal upgrade programs for members of the airlines’ two frequent flyer programs, AAdvantage and Dividend Miles, he said.

In the second quarter, the two airlines co-located at an additional 20 airports, and a total of 240 aircraft have been painted in the new American Airlines livery that was introduced prior to the merger.  In addition, the carrier broke ground on its new operations center and reached an agreement with US Airways mechanics and related workgroups.

The airline’s chief operating officer, Robert Isom, said that it is making “great progress” on the move towards a single operating certificate.  A single operating certificate is significant from an operational policies and procedures standpoint, and involves aligning operating policies and procedures from both carriers to determine the best choice for the combined airline.

The carrier is midway through the single operating certificate process, having broken it down into nine “chunks.”  Isom said he expects to start working with the FAA on getting the single operating certificate late in the second quarter of 2015 or shortly thereafter, pointing out that the airline will see benefits as the work progresses. “It’s not going to be like a light switch,” he said.

With respect to internal and external computer systems, Maya Leibman, the airline’s chief information officer, said that customers are already seeing a lot of small changes on the websites.  Members of the airlines’ frequent flyer programs can “earn and burn miles” on either carrier.  A passenger arriving at the American website that has a US Airways ticket will be automatically taken over to that airline’s check-in system and then returned to American’s after the check-in procedure has been completed.

The move to a single reservations system, according to Isom, is “hopefully” coming late next year.

Leibman said that, in comparison to the recent mergers led by Delta and United, American is at a comparable stage if not a little bit ahead at the same point post-merger.  She pointed out that each airline brought approximately 700 systems to the table, so the carrier currently has about 1,400, a figure that needs to be brought back down to a manageable number.  She also reiterated the decision to go with American’s legacy “because that’s really the path of resistance” as the systems were larger, better able to scale, and will require less training for employees and customers.

Earlier this week, the airline completed the alignment of meal services between the two carriers, with changes in offerings and mealtime windows made at American to match those made at US Airways in April.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

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