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Interview on American Airlines-US Airways merger: Apps, fares and feed

@denschaal

Feb 14, 2013 8:44 am

Skift Take

Raising fares indeed can be difficult, but in markets where the new American Airlines will dominate, travelers can expect them.

— Dennis Schaal

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US Airways intends to launch its first mobile app, an iPhone app, in about a month, and American Airlines is happy that corporate booking tools are beginning to offer its Your Choice product and service options.

Executives from US Airways and one from American Airlines got on the phone together today to speak with Skift about the airline merger, but their statements about their own airlines’ product initiatives underlie the point that the two carriers won’t really be one airline for at least two years — at a minimum.

The deal is slated to close in the third quarter of 2013, and it would take a least another 18 months after that to get a single operating certificate, officials said.

On hot-button issues, Andrew Nocella, US Airways’ senior vice president of planning and marketing, argued that the merger won’t necessarily translate into fare increases.

History has shown, Nocella said, that fares are “very competitive” and that travelers have a lot of choice about which airline to fly.

“This is not about raising fares, but bringing synergies” to put the merged airline at least on par with competitors, Nocella said.

He also disagreed with the notion that the merger won’t help the new American Airlines solve its weaknesses in China and Japan.

The foundation of a strong international network is good domestic feed, and the merger will help the combined airlines grow in Asia “in a profitable way,” Nocella said.

Derek DeCross, American’s vice president of global sales, argued that the merger will be great for business travelers because the new American Airlines would have the best network, frequent flyer clubs, and onboard products.

Asked if American’s controversial initiative to convince travel agencies to “direct-connect” to the airline would continue, DeCross said the airline is “very dedicated to the direct-connect platform.”

On competing product choices from the two airlines, both men indicated that it was too soon to tell on a lot of fronts.

AAdvantage, however, will be the loyalty program going forward once the merger takes place, and US Airways’ Dividend Miles members would have to migrate over.

 

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