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Monday, August 11, 2008

BA will give up hundreds of U.S. flights to forge American Airlines pact

British Airways is preparing to surrender its right to hundreds of transatlantic flights in an attempt to win the backing of US authorities for an alliance with American Airlines.

The slots are worth tens of millions of pounds, but BA chief executive Willie Walsh sees it as a price worth paying to secure a three-way tie-up with AA and Spain's Iberia.

The alliance would give the joint venture huge dominance in transatlantic flights.

It would have 46 per cent of all the slots and handle 62 per cent of all transatlantic passengers.

On one route - Heathrow to Houston - the combined group would control 100 per cent of all scheduled flights.

BA will meet US Department of Justice officials early this week and offer to give up the flights.

In return, the airline hopes to win immunity from prosecution under US anti-monopoly laws, allowing it to press ahead with its link-up without the risk of a lengthy legal battle.

When BA last tried a deal with AA in 2002, it was told it would have to surrender 16 flights a day to win anti-trust immunity.

That figure was deemed too high at the time, but this time round BA hopes to convince US authorities a much lower figure will satisfy their concerns.

BA is planning a full merger with Iberia and wants a deal to share costs and revenues with AA.

Walsh believes such a three-way venture is the only way airlines will be able to survive at a time of soaring fuel costs and falling demand.

He is shuttling between London and Washington to lay the groundwork for a successful application. This will be the third attempt by BA to link up with AA.

BA will run into tough opposition from rival Virgin Atlantic, which has pledged a full-blown campaign of opposition.

Virgin Atlantic chief executive Steve Ridgway said: "This alliance would give them a stranglehold on Heathrow-US flights. BA and AA will not face enough competition on their huge network to stop them raising prices."

The open skies agreement signed last year between Britain and the US means the domination of the transatlantic route by BA, American, Virgin and United has gone.

A further six US airlines have since been allowed to land at Heathrow.

Even more significant from BA's point of view is the fact that its rivals - Northwest Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Air France, KLM and Alitalia - have all won anti-trust immunity.

Faced by such a huge challenge Virgin is looking to merge with another airline. Its first choice would be to buy BMI, which has 11 per cent of all the slots at Heathrow.


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Friday, August 08, 2008

American Airlines ups miles needed for free trip

It will soon cost you $50 for a mileage earned reward trip within the United States on American Airlines.

American, which invented the mileage program 25 years ago, notified customers Thursday it will raise fees and miles needed for upgrades and free trips.

Under changes that take effect Oct. 1, an upgrade from economy coach on a one-way domestic flight will cost $50, plus the previously required 15,000 miles. A round trip upgrade would be $100 and 30,000 miles.

Fees for upgrades were also raised on international flights.

The airline told members of its AAdvantage frequent-flier program of the changes in an e-mail message.

American's moves follow changes at Delta Air Lines Inc.'s mileage program last week.

Delta said it would give frequent fliers a guaranteed ability to redeem miles for a free trip but sometimes at the cost of many more miles. Under a new three-tier program, fliers who spend more miles will get a better shot at winning one of the limited number of seats set aside for reward tickets.

Airlines are raising fares and a variety of fees to cover higher jet fuel costs, but most U.S. carriers are still losing money. American parent AMR Corp. lost nearly $1.8 billion in the first six months of this year after earning profits in 2006 and 2007.

American is raising the fee for a one-way upgrade from the U.S. to Europe, China, Japan, Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Chile or Uruguay to $350, from $300. Upgrading to India? That'll be $400. All those trips still require 25,000 miles except India, still 40,000.

American also boosted the number of miles needed to upgrade full-fare coach seats to business or first class on some routes. On flights to Hawaii, Mexico or the Caribbean, it'll take 8,000 miles instead of 5,000, and Europe will be 15,000 miles, up from 10,000.

Mileage requirements for round-trip awards were also raised for some destinations.

American spokeswoman Marcy Letourneau said the company was raising the fees because "the disparity between an economy seat and a business seat is too great to be offset just by miles."

Letourneau said customers still value the reward program, even with higher fees.

"We have many loyal customers, and we hope they remain loyal," she said.

American's AAdvantage program was revolutionary when it was introduced in the 1980s, and it is often credited with helping build loyalty to the carrier.

Could more changes be on the way for frequent fliers?

In a footnote to the e-mail sent to customers, American said it reserves the right to change the frequent-flier program rules at any time, without notice. Top of page


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Sunday, August 03, 2008

British Airways seeks to seal alliance with American Airlines

BRITISH AIRWAYS will make a third attempt to seal an alliance with its US partner American Airlines within weeks.

Willie Walsh, BA's chief executive, said he expected final preparations for the deal to be complete within a fortnight, with an application to US regulators to follow shortly afterwards. "We want to move on this as soon as possible," he said.

BA, which revealed sharply reduced profits last week, has tried to consummate its marriage with American Airlines for more than a decade. It first sought the permission of US regulators in 1997, then again in 2002.

The two airlines want to be exempt from America's tough anti-competition laws. This would allow them to run their transatlantic operations as a single company, with co-operation on pricing and schedules. A full merger of the companies is made almost impossible by America's strict airline-ownership laws.

Regulators rejected earlier attempts at an alliance because the arrangement was judged to be anti-competitive.

The deal with American may be expanded to bring in two other airlines, Iberia of Spain and Continental of the US. BA and Iberia last week announced plans for a full merger, details of which are likely to be announced in a few months.

Meanwhile, Walsh condemned government plans to drop air-passenger duty in favour of a flight tax.

"Aviation already more than covers the cost of its greenhouse gases through taxation and duty," he said. "This is nothing more than a revenue-generating exercise by the government."

Walsh said he supported aviation's inclusion in the European emissions-trading scheme, rather than the imposition of blanket taxes.


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Sunday, July 20, 2008

Air passenger strips, tries to get out

An American Airlines flight has been diverted in mid-flight after a disturbed passenger stripped naked then tried to open an emergency exit.

Passengers on the Boston to Los Angeles flight today said the unidentified man had undressed in one of the plane's bathrooms before emerging naked in the cabin.

Other passengers told the man to return to the bathroom and get dressed, which he did.

But shortly after returning to his seat the man got up again and lunged for the emergency exit before being restrained by passengers and tied up.

The flight was diverted to Oklahoma City, where the man was taken into custody and placed under psychiatric evaluation, FBI spokesman Gary Johnson said.

The Boeing 757 was back in the air an hour later and landed without further incident in Los Angeles, said American Airlines spokesman Tim Smith.

As passengers left the plane in Los Angeles, several indicated they had taken the incident in stride.

Gillian Callaghan, who was travelling with her 12 year old son, said she never panicked because the flight crew seemed to keep things well under control. She said she felt sorry for the man.

"He was just having some troubles, confused, not a scary guy," she said.


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Friday, July 04, 2008

BA to seek clearance for AA and Iberia merger

British Airways is said to be close to seeking clearance from competition authorities for a three-way operational merger with American Airlines (AA) and Iberia.

The deal would allow the companies to combine nearly all aspects of their operations, including sales, purchasing and marketing, leading to lower costs and greater economies of scale. Legal sources in the United States said that a submission to the US Department of Transport was expected as soon as next week.

The operational partnership may also provide a foundation for a full merger of the carriers should foreign ownership rules in the United States and Spain change. BA said two months ago that it was in talks with AA and Continental, another American carrier, about creating an alliance, but Continental has since walked away.

BA and AA have continued their discussions and are believed to have invited Iberia - in which BA has a 13 per cent stake - to be the third member. BA said last night that its talks with AA were continuing but a decision had yet to be made.

If BA and AA do seek regulatory approval to merge their operations, it would be their third attempt, having been blocked by regulators in 1998 and 2001. The authorities in Britain and America were concerned that the

two carriers would have a dominant position on many North Atlantic routes and demanded that the airlines sell Heathrow slots to reduce their traffic.

However, sources familiar with BA's discussions said that the airline was more optimistic of gaining approval this time because of the liberalisation of air travel rules between Europe and the US. In addition, the dire state of the airline sector, which is striving to cope with high fuel prices, may force regulators to accept the deal.

AA lost $328 million (£164.7 million)and Iberia €28.3 million (£22.5 million) in the first quarter of this year. BA has given warning that it may struggle to stay profitable this year.

An analyst said: "There is a lot of pressure on BA and AA to do this deal and cut costs. It's inevitable." Another added: "Including Iberia makes sense, as it would give the alliance a strong position across both the North and South Atlantic."

Meanwhile, BA said yesterday that it had bought L'Avion, a French business-class only airline, for £54 million. L'Avion is the last of the survivors of the rush two years ago to launch all-business-class transatlantic services. Silverjet, MaxJet and Eos have all gone out of business.

L'Avion will be merged with BA's new OpenSkies service, which flies from Paris to New York. The purchase price includes L'Avion's £26million in cash and two Boeing 757 aircraft.


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Thursday, May 29, 2008

American Airlines to end New York-Stansted flights

American Airlines said Wednesday it will stop flying between New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport and London's Stansted Airport less than a year after launching the route.

The move, which takes effect July 2, is part of the leading U.S. carrier's plan to cut costs and shed capacity by 11 percent to 12 percent in the face of rapidly rising fuel prices. Flights to London's Heathrow Airport are not affected by the change.

Fort Worth, Texas-based American launched service to Stansted in October, hoping to gain a larger share of the lucrative trans-Atlantic business travel market. Its entry was seen as partially responsible for the failures of all-business class carriers MAXjet Airways and Eos Airlines Inc., which quit flying from the airport in recent months.

On Tuesday, American said it will discontinue its Chicago-Buenos Aires service and Boston-San Diego service on Sept. 3, and Chicago-Honolulu service on Jan. 5. It will also restructure American and American Eagle operations at San Juan, Puerto Rico, beginning in September.


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Thursday, May 22, 2008

American Airlines to cut flights, jobs as oil prices spike

American Airlines says it will cut domestic flights significantly, shed workers and raise some fees charged to passengers as it battles to offset rocketing crude oil prices.

The largest US carrier said today it planned to slash its domestic flight capacity by up to 12% during the fourth quarter of the year and to retire at least 75 aircraft in the face of rising jet fuel costs.


Friday, May 09, 2008

Plane Flew to Paris With Missing Panel

American Airlines says the Federal Aviation Administration has asked for a report on a flight that flew from Dallas to Paris last month after a panel fell off the underside of the plane during takeoff.

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Sunday, April 27, 2008

American Airlines in talks with Continental, US Air

American Airlines has had early stage merger talks with US Airways and is in advanced talks for an alliance with Continental Airlines, sources briefed on the situation said on Friday.

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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

American Airlines back on track

American Airlines returned to its regular flight schedule Sunday as it completed the final inspections on its fleet of Boeing MD-80 jets.


Thursday, April 10, 2008

American Airlines grounds flights

American Airlines has cancelled more than 1,000 flights after grounding its MD-80 aircraft to conduct extra safety inspections on wiring.

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Friday, March 28, 2008

American temporarily grounds MD-80s, cancels 300 flights

American Airlines cancelled more than 300 flights yesterday when it temporarily grounded an unspecified number of MD-80s to inspect wiring.

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Tuesday, March 04, 2008

American Airlines plane makes emergency landing at Glasgow airport

An American Airlines plane flying from London to Los Angeles made an emergency landing in Glasgow on Monday after a warning light incorrectly indicated there might be a fire in the hold, a spokesman said.

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Sunday, February 10, 2008

Unruly passenger forces Paris-bound jet to divert

An American Airlines flight from New York to Paris was diverted to Boston late Wednesday after a passenger refused to cooperate with flight crew, officials said.

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Sunday, November 11, 2007

No danger found in plane searched at New York airport

A bomb threat involving an American Airlines flight from Chicago to New York concluded peacefully on Thursday after police searched the plane at New York's LaGuardia airport and found no danger, American Airlines said.

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Sunday, October 28, 2007

Orlando-To-Dallas Flight Diverted

An American Airlines flight from Orlando, Fla., to Dallas-Fort Worth was diverted to Houston on Saturday night after a passenger tried to open an emergency door.


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Friday, October 19, 2007

British Airways urges American Airlines tie-up

British Airways has urged its U.S. partner American Airlines to get closer still as it seeks to fend off a transatlantic joint venture between Delta and Air France.

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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

American Airlines to offer Chicago to Moscow flights next summer

American Airlines said Tuesday it will offer direct flights from O'Hare International Airport to the Russian capital beginning next summer, making it just the second U.S. carrier to fly into Moscow and the first to fly there nonstop from Chicago.

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Thursday, October 11, 2007

American Airlines pilots threaten to picket

The head of American Airlines' pilots union threatened to see American's CEO "on the picket line" and in court after the carrier's management have failed to meet the union's demand for a bigger share of the company's profits.

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Friday, October 05, 2007

American Airlines to fly Stansted-JFK

American Airlines is to go head-to-head with Eos and MAXjet at Stansted on the transatlantic route to New York JFK. The airline announced today that it will launch daily services from the Essex airport from 29 October and will add a second daily service from March 2008.

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Sunday, September 30, 2007

American Airlines makes emergency landing after engine catches fire during a flight

ST. LOUIS (AP) - American Airlines is trying to determine what caused an engine aboard 1 of its jets to catch fire during a flight to Chicago.

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Saturday, September 01, 2007

Mom defends reaction to Iraqi passengers

Flight delayed after she feared 7 were terrorists. American Airlines Flight 590, with 126 passengers on board, had been scheduled to depart Lindbergh Field at 11 pm Tuesday.

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Tuesday, August 21, 2007

American Airlines sues Google over keywords

American Airlines is suing Google for its keyword ad placement. American Airlines alleges that Google sells sponsored links on top and to the right of search pages that, according to American Airlines, dilutes the company's good name and confuses the public.


Friday, August 17, 2007

Southwest On Pace To Be Biggest Airline, Traffic-Wise

Southwest Airlines is on pace to unseat American Airlines this year as the world's biggest airline, measured by passenger traffic. (page not found)

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Friday, August 03, 2007

Wi-Fi on high coming from American Airlines

American Airlines says it will be the first U.S. carrier to test high-speed Internet service in flight.

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Monday, July 23, 2007

Plane from NYC lands safely in Virginia despite problem

An American Airlines plane from New York landed safety at Norfolk International Airport early Friday after having hydraulic problems. (page not found)

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Saturday, July 07, 2007

Flights between N.Y., London Stansted set for October

American Airlines will start flying between New York and London's Stansted Airport, becoming the only major airline offering U.S. flights from the facility. (page not found)

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Thursday, December 07, 2006

American Airlines and Gulf Air Announce Reciprocal Frequent Flyer Agreement

American Airlines has joined Gulf Air in a reciprocal frequent flyer program which will offer travellers more opportunities to earn frequent flyer points. (page not found)

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