American Airlines, British Airways and Iberia formally announced the creation of a joint business alliance that will allow customers to seamlessly book flights on all three carriers.
At a news conference in London, executives at the carriers touted the benefits of the venture, saying that the airlines have added codesharing on 2,600 additional flights and that customers will now be able to earn frequent flier miles on trans-Atlantic flights.
"By expanding choice on each airlines' websites, customers can mix and match their flights between the three carriers giving them the greater ability to find a cheaper ticket," said BA chief executive Willie Walsh, adding that customers will find the same price on the same route on all three airline websites.
As part of Wednesday's announcement, the three carriers announced new routes to start next summer. American said it will start service on a Chicago-Helsinki route and a New York (JFK)-Budapest route. BA said it plans to relaunch service between London's Heathrow airport and San Diego. Iberia said it will begin flying between Madrid and Los Angeles.
American also announced that it will be recalling about 800 furloughed employees as part of "new international flying and business opportunities." The recalls, which include bringing back 545 flight attendants and 250 pilots, will begin later this month.
The Fort Worth-based carrier said the first group of 25 pilots will be recalled in mid-November with a recall rate of about 30 a month. The flight attendants will be recalled in phases with the first notices issued to about 225 flight attendants this month.
With the joint business alliance, the three airlines can cooperate on scheduling, marketing and other business functions on routes. They can also share expenses and revenue.
United Airlines' Star alliance and Delta Air Lines' SkyTeam alliance already have trans-Atlantic joint business agreements and executives at American, BA and Iberia say their new joint business agreement will allow them to better compete on U.S.-Europe routes.
"Today what you're going to see with these three airlines is one-stop connecting opportunities that are more competitive than we have been historically with Lufthansa, AirFrance and the other global alliances, and I think that's great news for customers," said American CEO Gerard Arpey.
Federal and European regulators required the carriers to make daily slots at London Heathrow Airport available to new competitors. The slots are between London Heathrow and airports in Boston, New York, Dallas/Fort Worth and Miami.