Thursday, August 14, 2008

American and British Airways To Team Up

British Airways announced a deal that partners up with American Airlines, allowing both carriers to operate together, fixing routes, schedules and fares throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico and Europe. Spain's Iberia Airlines, recently acquired by British Airways, is included in the partnership.

One hurdle for the airlines will be receiving government approval. They must convince the U.S. that the deal does not negatively impact consumers. European regulators will likely be concerned about the dominance the combined airlines will have at London's Heathrow Airport, where the two carriers control nearly half the take-off and landing slots to the United States.

Virgin Atlantic's Chief Executive Richard Branson is not so excited about the prospects of a combined airline; "Make no mistake, A BA/AA alliance would be bad for passengers, bad for competition and bad for the UK and US aviation industry". Branson has sent letters to Presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain urging them to say no to the proposed deal.

On the plus side, if the agreement is approved, travelers would likely see more booking options, including a wider array of destinations, easier hub connections and improved cooperation between the two frequent flier programs.