Long integration journey ahead for US Airways, American

By Kate Rice
It will be a year to a year-and-a-half before American Airlines and US Airways start merging their operations to create a single product, according to sales and marketing executives from the two airlines.

Two major goals: obtain a joint certificate from the Federal Aviation Administration and create a common reservations system.

Acquiring a single operating certificate from the FAA, which certifies that the two airlines have become a single airline, should take 12 to 18 months, according to Andrew Nocella, US Airways' senior vice president of planning and marketing.

The two airlines will work together to align their policies in the cockpit, the cabin and on the ground, he said.

Regarding the res system, US Airways CEO Doug Parker said he anticipates choosing American's, reported The Beat.

"It's much easier to take the larger airline's system to put those in place at the smaller airline than it is to do that the other way around," Parker said.

Nocella said, “The transfer to a single res system is one of the biggest hurdles in any merger.” It's the foundation for other decisions, such as determining the look of the website, he said.

The two airlines also have to merge their marketing and compensation programs as well as their preferred relationships with travel agency consortia and corporations.

The agency channel is an important one for the airlines. Travel agencies provide a “good chunk of our high-value customer base,” said Derek DeCross, vice president of global sales for American.

The two airlines initially will be limited in what they do on integrating marketing and compensation plans because they remain competitors and must comply with antitrust laws, said DeCross.

DeCross and Nocella said that the American-US Airways merger is ahead of the game when compared with other recent airline mergers because of memoranda of understanding that they have with labor unions.

These memoranda essentially provide the combined airline with a “road map” for integrating employees, Nocella said.

The two airlines expect to complete their merger by the third quarter of 2013. The carriers have created a joint website to provide info on the merger, www.newamericanarriving.com.
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