On the same day that American Airlines announces how they, Iberia, and British Airways will benefit trans-atlantic travelers and that they’re recalling up to 800 furloughed employees as a result of the new co-operative alliance, they also announce a new code-share agreement with Finnair, but the bigger news may be that they’ve the U.S. Department of Transportation has decided to grant tentative anti-trust immunity to their alliance with JAL.
From the press release:
By this action, the DOT has moved another step closer to granting antitrust immunity to the two airlines as allowed under a provision of the Open Skies agreement initialed by the United States and Japan last December. Open Skies allows new service between the U.S. and Tokyo International Airport at Haneda (HND). American will begin daily flights between New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) and Haneda on Jan. 20, 2011, while Japan Airlines will commence daily flights between Haneda and San Francisco (SFO) as well as Honolulu (HNL) starting Oct. 31, 2010.
Under an immunized agreement, the two airlines will cooperate commercially on flights between North America and Asia while continuing to operate as separate legal entities. Consumers will benefit by, among other things, improved schedule and routing choices, and will continue to receive reciprocal frequent flyer benefits and airport lounge access. Employees and shareholders also will benefit as the airlines will have greater ability to sustain existing service and launch new routes, and improve their overall competitive position.
I’m hoping that all this good news will be good for AAdvantage members, so far the fact that you’ll earn 100% miles on BA and Iberia, even when flying on discounted tickets, is a really big improvement. For instance, there is a substantial price difference (for now) if I fly from Dallas to Instanbul on an American flight connecting to an American/Iberia codeshare flight instead of just traveling on American flight and then connecting to the same Iberia flight, but without a codeshare designation. Before the alliance, when you traveled on Iberia with a discouted fare, you receive something 25%-50% mileage. Now, rather than pay for the higher priced codeshare flight just to get 100% miles, I can now buy the cheap ticket and I’ll still get 100% miles (this is especially important to me when counting elite qualify miles that count toward elite AAdvantage status).
American has indicated that they are not looking to merge with anyone and that these new alliances will allow them to compete with the now merged Delta/Northwest combo and the soon to be merged United/Continental. It’s seems to be a strategy built on the premise that for most travelers, Istanbul will be more important than Indianapolis…hmmmm….we’ll see….