The merger between American Airlines and US Airways should be approved by this autumn, subject to the decision of the department of Justice.
Business Traveller spoke to Jon Snook, senior vice president of customer services for American Airlines.
“Six months from February 14, 2013 is what we’re targeting,” he revealed. “Although we’re probably talking three years from now before we’re able to fully align all the facilities and the fleet branding.”
Snook spoke about the opportunities that the merger would bring: “The merger catapults us back to being the largest carrier in the world [by available seat miles] and gives us incredible strength on the East coast, which is important for us as a business carrier. It also adds weight in Europe – nine destinations including Paris, Athens, Brussels and Tel Aviv.
“Only 12 of the two carriers’ destinations overlap [out of 900] which I think is incredible for two major carriers, and so it [the merger] would be complementary.”
Another significant partnership for AA is the carrier’s joint business agreement with BA, which sees the two airlines codeshare on all transatlantic routes.
“The joint business agreement with BA is going well,” says Snook. “We’re seeing a strong performance across the transatlantic market, and we’ve seen bookings grow significantly because of it. I think customers are starting to see that it’s possible to travel like this without any negative consequences, though it’s taken time to get over the perspective that we’re two different carriers. But we see that people are starting to see them as interchangeable now.”
In terms of new routes for the airline, “Growing internationally is a big part of our plan,” says Snook. “There’s a focus on Asia for us – we already have a robust network in Europe and Latin America. The B777-300ER is the perfect aircraft for that because of its cost efficiency.”
American’s B777-300ER entered service on the London-Dallas/Fort Worth route on March 3. The new business class product offers fully-flat beds with a 26-inch (66cm) width, aisle access with every seat and wifi connection.
The aircraft will be deployed daily on flight 79, which leaves London at 1325 and arrives at Dallas at 1750. The return flight with the aircraft is overnight flight 50, which departs Dallas at 1730 and arrives at Heathrow at 0840 the next morning.
The carrier’s next B777-300ERs to serve the UK are set to be introduced on the Heathrow to New York JFK route on March 15, and then on the Heathrow-Los Angeles route in June. Its B767 and B777-200 aircraft will be retrofitted with the new product from next January.
Business Traveller will be reviewing AA’s fully-flat business class seat on board the B777-300ER in the May print edition – to subscribe click here.
Report by Rose Dykins