BA, Iberia and American Airlines launch tie-up
British Airways, Iberia and American Airlines announce new routes under transatlantic deal
Jane Wardell, AP Business Writer, On Wednesday October 6, 2010, 9:35 am
LONDON (AP) -- American Airlines, British Airways and Iberia launched their transatlantic joint business Wednesday, unveiling new routes and detailing benefits for customers that include a shared frequent flyers program.
BA Chief Executive Willie Walsh said the strengthening of the trio's relationship was about "generating revenue synergies" but declined to put a figure on cost savings or revenue gains.
The three carriers have placed codeshares on more than 2,600 additional flights -- passengers will be able to buy tickets for all three airlines on each of the carriers websites.
Walsh said coordinating schedules has allowed the airlines to change flight times to offer customers a wider range of options and better connecting journeys.
Four new routes were unveiled: New York to Budapest, Chicago to Helsinki, London to San Diego and Madrid to Los Angeles.
The new arrangement follows BA's merger with Iberia this year that created Europe's third-largest airline. It strengthens the trio's existing relationship under the oneworld alliance but stops short of a full financial deal with American Airlines because of stringent U.S. regulation that bars foreign ownership of airlines.
The closer ties between the trio have worried rival airlines -- Virgin Atlantic Airways is concerned about BA's dominance at Heathrow Airport.
Gerard Arpey, chief executive of American Airlines parent AMR Corp., said the deal had allowed the U.S. airline to recall around 800 employees -- 250 pilots and around 550 flight attendants.
"This is exactly the kind of growth we're looking for and my hope is that trends like this will continue."
Iberia Chief Executive Antonio Vazquez said that Madrid's Barajas airport still had excess capacity and he expected the hub to become one of the main gateways for flights between North America and Europe "in the very near future."
The three airlines will coordinate their call centers as well as websites and will also create new oneworld customer transfer desks at key airports.