American Airlines to Merge Reservation Systems This Summer

US Airways Brand to Disappear Prior to End of Year

By Paul Riegler on 12 May 2015
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DSC_0081American Airlines Group said Tuesday that it plans to merge its reservation systems from the two airlines that combined to form the world’s largest in late 2013 over the summer.

In a letter to its business partners and ticket sellers, the Fort Worth-based carrier said that it would begin the move to a single reservations system as early as July, with the cutover taking place 90 days later. At that point, flights marketed under the US Airways brand will end.

An airline’s reservations system is the largest and most complicated technology an airline typically has. It holds millions of passenger records, flight schedules, and bookings. American is keeping the system it used, called Sabre, and migrating the far smaller US Airways system records into it.

Merging reservations systems is the trickiest part of an airline’s merger. While it was smooth sailing when Delta merged with Northwest, merging computer systems after United and Continental merged resulted in multiple system failures and tremendous disruptions for customers.

In the letter, American promised “a smooth transition.” In a conference call with reporters on Monday, Maya Leibman, the airline’s CIO, said that the airline’s mantra has continually been “How do we mitigate risk” with respect to the merger of its various technologies.

The airline plans a three-phased process. The first phase will essentially announce a schedule change that will go into effect 90 days after. The second phase will be a transition during which reservations will only be able to be made on the US Airways system for a point in time within the 90-day period. All reservations for any flights beyond the 90-day period will have to take place on American’s system. The third phase will be the shutdown of the US Airways reservation system. All reservations made prior to the 90-day period for flights after that timeframe will be moved onto the AA system.

At that point, all US Airways flights will become American Airlines flights and the US Airways brand will disappear.

American merged US Airways’ frequent-flyer system into its own in March, thereby reducing the workload and risk. No significant problems were reported following that transition.
(Photo: Accura Media Group)

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