Tuesday, September 1, 2015

US Airways to officially retire on October 17, 2015

The next milestone for the American Airlines-US Airways integration is Oct. 17 when the US Airways brand will be retired. At that time its reservations system will cutover to American’s Sabre system, American chief integration officer Beverly Goulet stated.

“The reservations system migration is the largest customer-facing event left,” Goulet said at the Boyd Group’s International Aviation Forecast Summit. On Oct. 17, all tickets will be sold through American Airlines’ website, and the US Airways designator code will cease to exist. The two carriers have been operating with a single operating certificate since April.

Goulet described the reservation system migration as “drain down.” On July 18, American published a schedule that had no changes until Oct. 17. For travel after that date, all tickets booked on US Airways’ website will automatically be booked through American’s.

The integration team has been migrating tickets booked before July 18 for travel after Oct.17 on US Airways, which was about 10% of the total number of US Airways tickets. US Airways airport ticket agents are training on the new system, and American has reduced the schedule at legacy US Airways hubs on Oct.17, building in more time to allow ticket agents to process tickets on the new system.

American has been changing the signs at airports and expects to finish that project by October 17. At airports where US Airways and American are not co-located, the American is working on getting the message on where to check in to passengers. At some airports, American has shuttle buses beyond security to take passengers to the right gates, Goulet said.

The fleet integration is continuing as planned. Goulet noted that the two airlines overlapped on just three aircraft types: Boeing 757s and Airbus A319s and A321s. On these aircraft, the carrier is working to harmonize the cabin footprint.

The remainder of US Airways fleet will be repainted in American’s livery by the middle of next year, Goulet said All wide-bodies have already been repainted. Cabin trim and finish—which includes bulkheads—will occur as aircraft come in for maintenance. American also is repainting its legacy aircraft in its new livery, painting the unpainted silver aircraft as they come in for maintenance. This process will be completed by mid-2017, Goulet said.

American will not get to full operational integration for another year or two, Goulet said. The carrier expects to begin “route swaps,” where legacy US Airways aircraft or American aircraft can be swapped in on a given route in order to match aircraft size with demand. Even when that begins next year, the carrier must operate a legacy US Airways aircraft with legacy US Airways flight and cabin crews, she said.

Route swaps, together with no longer operating codeshares with US Airways, will “unlock some fairly substantial revenue and cost synergies,” Goulet said. The carrier expects more revenue synergies from the reservation system migration, she said.

(Madhu Unnikrishnan - ATWOnline News)

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