British Airways Plc’s joint venture with AMR Corp’s American Airlines on flights across the Atlantic, almost 13 years in the making, will start next month, the UK airline’s vice president for the Americas said.
The two carriers will align their frequent-flier programmes as soon as the venture starts, allowing travellers to earn and use their miles on both airlines, Simon Talling-Smith said in an interview yesterday. The companies then plan to coordinate their schedule next year before adding new destinations in the US and Europe.
“We’re very excited about that,” Talling-Smith said by phone. “We’re going to work a lot harder with the other airlines to make sure that when our customers connect at key airports, like Chicago, like London, New York or Madrid, that the connection is a lot smoother.”
British Airways (BA), Europe’s third-largest carrier, and American, based in Fort Worth, Texas, won approval for the tie- up from antitrust regulators in July on their third try, after rejections in 1997 and 2001. The alliance will control almost 50 per cent of US flights at London’s Heathrow Airport.
Iberia Lineas Aereas de Espana, the Spanish airline that is scheduled to complete its merger with London-based BA by the end of this year, is also part of the joint venture and will contribute about 10 per cent of the venture’s estimated $7 billion in annual revenue.
BA is today starting its second “Face-to- Face” competition. The promotion, in its second year, offers free European trips to 250 US small businesses seeking to develop relationships globally.