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American and US Airways start code-sharing as a step toward unifying operations

American Airlines and US Airways are taking another step towards merging into a single airline. Each has started selling tickets on select flights operated by the other carrier, for travel starting today. It’s a practice called codesharing, which makes your partner’s flights look like your own. It’s just one step in a very long engagement.

American Airlines and US Airways are taking another step towards merging into a single airline. Each has started selling tickets on select flights operated by the other carrier, for travel starting today. It’s a practice called codesharing, which makes your partner’s flights look like your own. It’s just one step in a very long engagement.

Airline consultant Jay Sorensen says merging ownership was just the beginning of that engagement, "and at some point down the road, the engagement will come to an end and there will be the actual marriage.” 

But there’s a lot to do before the two airlines become one. Like codesharing. Sorensen says it should boost revenue, by increasing sales of connecting flights. People prefer not to change airlines mid-trip he says, “whereas a connection on the same airline is one step below a non-stop flight.” 

Continental and United waited until they were hitched to roll out certain benefits. But travel industry analyst Henry Harteveldt likes that American and US Airways are breaking the process into manageable pieces.

“Like letting us use one another’s lounges,” Harteveldt says. “Then, a little bit of codesharing on certain flights between hubs. Then expand that. Then start selling flights on one another’s websites.” 

Soon you’re standardizing meals and all we all know what that means.

In the end, the new airline will take American’s name. All flights will be coded AA.

About the author

Kate Davidson is a regular contributor to Marketplace.

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