American Airlines looks set to receive a single operating certificate from the FAA in just a couple of weeks. This comes after they announced yesterday that the loyalty programs will combine to one this coming Saturday, March 28th.
This is good news for the carrier though it doesn’t mean they’ll begin operating as one airline. They are running ahead of schedule according to their earlier public reports. This Frequent Business Traveler article details the announcement and what’s due to come next:
The airline will still have a lot of work ahead of it to complete the merger, given that its reservations systems won’t merge until later in the year. It will still have to merge its fleet and many other operational aspects of the company and these last steps will be completed by late 2015 at the earliest based on the airline’s current timetable.
The reservations system combination really is the biggest customer-facing item I see remaining on the schedule after they merge Dividend Miles and AAdvantage this weekend into one program. There’s no question that coordinating the fleet and staff of both airlines will prove daunting, but the reservation system is still the thing that needs to be as seamless as possible for customers. When Continental and United merged, this was one of the steps that turned into a horror show.
American Airlines chose a path early on that was slow and deliberate. They’ve been criticized by some for going too slow, but there really haven’t been any major missteps. As I mentioned to a friend a few weeks ago, if the domestic catering changes are one of the items that draws the most press when the dust settles, I think that’s a win. Where United had delayed flights and baggage along with hours long hold times, American has an opportunity to navigate a smoother path. All indications are that’s where we’re heading, but I’m sure there will be some folks holding their breath on Amon Carter Blvd more than once over the next 6 months. As customers, some of us will be holding our breath as well, though I don’t think for very long.
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