Joint business means new deal for transatlantic flyers
London – More access to cheaper fares, bigger choice of flight times and easier connecting journeys will become reality for transatlantic flyers with the launch today of the new joint business between oneworld partners American Airlines, British Airways and Iberia.
The Chief Executives of the three airlines met in London today for the official start of their trilateral relationship, which enables oneworld to compete far more effectively with other global alliances on routes between Europe and North America.
They announced four new routes that will start from April as an early benefit of the new joint business:
- New York JFK-Budapest and Chicago-Helsinki, to be operated by American.
- London Heathrow-San Diego, to be operated by British Airways.
- Madrid-Los Angeles, to be operated by Iberia.
The airlines have also placed code-shares on a significant number of additional routes, greatly increasing the number of destination choices available to customers. American will add its code to 322 British Airways and Iberia flights serving 101 destinations, British Airways will add its code to 2,063 American and Iberia flights serving 181 destinations and Iberia will add its code to 354 American and British Airways flights serving 96 destinations. There will be further opportunities to increase code-shares in the future. In total, customers will be able to travel more easily on the airlines‘ combined route network which will serve more than 400 destinations in 105 countries with around 5,200 daily departures.
Other customer benefits of their joint business include:
- Greater access to a wider choice of fares.
- Co-ordinated schedules on joint routes to provide customers with better flight choice and timings.
- Dedicated support teams for customers transferring at the airlines‘ key hubs.
- On-line check in and boarding pass printing with either the airline operating the flight, or the one the ticket was booked through.
- Integrated on-line flight information on all three airlines‘ websites.
- Increased opportunity to earn and redeem frequent flyer benefits on all three airlines‘ transatlantic flights.
- More integrated account management for corporate customers.
American Airlines Chairman and Chief Executive Gerard Arpey said: „We’ve been waiting for 14 years to be able to bring these benefits to our customers and it’s great news that we can now put our plans into action. Our revenue-sharing partnership will further boost oneworld, in what has been a momentous year for the alliance, and enable us to reduce costs and attract new business. It will provide additional stability for the airlines and our customers, employees and shareholders and allow us to invest in new products and services.“
British Airways Chief Executive Willie Walsh said: „Today’s route announcement is a great example of how, by working together, we can benefit customers. Combined selling and scheduling means that we will able to operate routes that would not have been viable for us individually. This partnership will provide a one-stop shop for transatlantic travel regardless of how you book, which of our airlines you fly with or where you want to transfer.“
Iberia Chairman and Chief Executive Antonio Vazquez added: „Today is a very important day for the three airlines we represent, for our oneworld alliance and, most importantly, it is a big day for all of our customers. We at Iberia are very proud of working together with our friends at American Airlines and British Airways to make this possible. The growth potential of our joint business and the extra capacity Madrid offers will enable Barajas airport to become one of the main gateways for flights between North America and Europe in the very near future. So we will be offering our customers more travel choices, but we will also offer them a better travel experience.“
Under their joint business, which follows approvals from the regulatory authorities in Europe and the USA in July, the three airlines will work together and share revenues on flights between the European Union (plus Switzerland and Norway) and the USA, Canada and Mexico.
More access to cheaper fares
From the start, the trhee airlines will be code-sharing on one another’s routes across the North Atlantic.
This means that customers will have a greater number of flights to the same destination from which to choose – and that in turn means there will be more fares available on those routes.
They will be able to „mix and match“ flights between the three airlines maximising their ability to find the cheapest fare for their journey. So, for example, if a customer on London Heathrow to New York JFK round trip finds the cheapest outbound fare with BA and the cheapest one home on a code-share flight operated by American, he can book that combination to realise the savings. Or, for instance, a customer travelling from Madrid to Miami can combine the cheapest fares between Iberia and American Airlines.
More choice in departure times through co-ordinated schedules
The three airlines will start aligning their schedules and retiming flights from summer next year, to provide their customers with a greater range of departure times.
For example, four of the six flights between London and Chicago that American and BA operate today arrive at almost exactly the same time and six of their 11 current daily New York JFK-London flights depart at very similar times. Departure times on these routes, and others, will be more evenly spaced to give customers more and improved schedule options.
Easier booking and check-in
Customers will be able to book their flight on any of the three airlines‘ websites, irrespective of which airline operates the aircraft for that flight.
Their websites will also provide links to the operating carrier’s information pages, and real time arrival and departure data for all joint business flights.
Customers will be able to check-in and print their boarding pass on the site of the airline due to operate their flight or the airline they booked it through.
Advanced Passenger Information data already recorded with one airline will be transferred automatically to the operating airline(s), so customers will not have to re-enter it.
Customers contacting any of the airlines‘ call centres will be dealt with either by the airline they have called, or by the operating airline after a „warm handover“. This means a fast-track transfer to an agent of the operating airline, who will have been fully briefed about the nature of the customer’s inquiry.
Aligning baggage policies
From day one, all customers will continue to be able to check in at least one bag for free on all three airlines.
First and longhaul Business Class customers will benefit from a three checked-bag limit. This is an increase for American Airlines from two bags.
Both American and Iberia are also joining BA in waiving the heavy bag charge for First and longhaul Business Class customers for bags weighing between 23 kgs and 32 kgs.
Frequent flyer programme consistency and integration
With the new three-way joint business, the transatlantic frequent flyer gap between American and BA is closed. Members of American Airlines‘ AAdvantage, British Airways‘ Executive Club and the Iberia Plus scheme will be able to earn and redeem miles on all three airlines‘ flights between the USA and Europe (including the UK), making all routes flown by British Airways, American Airlines and Iberia eligible for earning and redeeming miles.
In addition, the three airlines are introducing more generous benefits for customers flying on American Airlines, British Airways or Iberia on transatlantic routes, depending on the type of ticket purchased or frequent flyer tier.
Ruby cardholders will be able to check-in at Business Class counters for flights by all three airlines.
The first oneworld Transfer Support Centre opened in June at Chicago O’Hare International Airport, with the three airlines working together to enhance customer service for passengers connecting between any of the airlines‘ flights.
A team comprising representatives from all three airlines identifies flights with customers who have either already missed their onward journey or are due to arrive with less than the normal minimum connection time left before their onward flight departs. Those who have already missed their onward journey are met at the aircraft gate by staff who have already rebooked them on the next available flight and printed the new boarding passes. Those below the minimum connection time are met at the aircraft and fast-tracked through customs and immigration before being transferred to their operating carrier’s terminal. They are again met and fast- tracked through security to connect with their aircraft in time. Similar procedures are in place for baggage.
Additional oneworld Transfer Support Centres are open or about to open at four other main hubs including London Heathrow, Miami and New York JFK, which all opened in September, and Madrid which will open on 18 October.
oneworld will expand this concept to all of its member airlines and to more key hubs in the future.
Greater access to arrivals lounges
Both American Airlines and British Airways will open the doors of their Arrivals Lounges at London Heathrow, in Terminals 5 and 3, to Emerald tier cardholders in any oneworld airline frequent flyer programme landing on either airline’s transatlantic flights, regardless of in which cabin they flew. To gain access, they simply need to show their frequent flyer Emerald status and boarding card from the flight on which they arrived.
Members of each airline’s frequent flyer programme continue to benefit from reciprocal lounge access. Together, the three airlines have some 200 airport lounges worldwide. With their other oneworld partners, that expands to around 500 lounges globally for Emerald or Sapphire cardholders in any oneworld airline frequent flyer programme.
More care at times of operational disruption
At times of operational disruption, the airlines‘ call centres and oneworld Transfer Support Centres will be instrumental in ensuring the highest levels of customer care. They will be able to rebook customers across the three airlines to help them complete their journeys. The joint business means the three airlines will have a greater ability to rebook customers from one carrier to another to mitigate the impact of disruption.
Corporate customers to benefit from joint sales agreements
American, BA and Iberia will be able to offer seamless account management and co-ordinated pricing and programmes for corporate customers with the aim of reducing duplication, complexity and potentially cost.
Superior customer experience and service integration
Customers will experience continuous and consistent service excellence irrespective of on which of the three airlines they are flying. From flight selection to check-in, to final arrival and every step between, the three airlines have invested in enhanced customer service.
Nearly 12,000 of their customer-facing employees have been trained to make certain they have the skills and expertise to deliver a superior experience for customers.
Making oneworld even better
The joint business between American Airlines, British Airways and Iberia makes oneworld even better, allowing the group to operate across the Atlantic in the way competitors in the rival alliances have been for many years.
Its launch comes in a breakthrough year for the alliance, with:
- Russia’s leading domestic carrier S7 Airlines joining on 15 November.
- India’s leading carrier Kingfisher Airlines and Germany’s second biggest airline Air Berlin signed as members elect.
- Links expanded with Japan Airlines after it reaffirmed its oneworld membership.
- Skytrax’s World’s Best Airline Alliance title added to the World Travel Awards‘ World’s Leading Alliance trophies won for the past seven years.
oneworld brings together some of the best and biggest names in the airline business – American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Finnair, Iberia, Japan Airlines, LAN, Malév Hungarian Airlines, Mexicana, Qantas and Royal Jordanian, and around 20 affiliates including American Eagle, Dragonair, LAN Argentina, LAN Ecuador and LAN Peru. Russia’s S7 Airlines will join the alliance on 15 November 2010 with Air Berlin and India’s Kingfisher Airlines now members elect. Between them, these airlines:
- Serve almost 900 airports in nearly 150 countries, with some 9,500 daily departures.
- Offer more than 550 airport lounges for premium customers.
- Carry 340 million passengers a year.
- Operate a combined fleet of almost 2,500 aircraft.
- Generate around US$90 billion annual revenues in total.
oneworld enables its members to offer their customers more services and benefits than any airline can provide on its own. These include a broader route network, opportunities to earn and redeem frequent flyer miles and points across the combined oneworld network and more airport lounges. oneworld also offers more alliance fares than any of its competitors.
oneworld was named the World’s Best Alliance in the 2010 World Airline Awards and has been voted the World’s Leading Airline Alliance for the past seven years in the World Travel Awards. It is the only winner of this award since it was introduced in 2003.
Picture: Carstino Delmonte/ Touristikpresse.net