Aviation News

April 8, 2015

American Airlines Offered a Single Operating Certificate, Completing Merge with US Airways

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Written by: Douglas Wint
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On April 8, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) granted a single operating certificate to American Airlines and US Airways, signifying a major step in their integration process. For more than a year, over 700 employees reviewed manuals and other procedures to establish ideal practices and policies for the new combined carrier while ensuring that all requirements for consolidation, as set by the FAA, were met. The new certificate replaces those of the separate airlines, and completes the regulatory process of the merger that was announced in December 2013. Since the American name is retained, it also means the cessation of the “Cactus” call sign, used by US Airways since October 2008 when they went under a single operating certificate following their own merger with America West Airlines. The last flight to use the “Cactus” call sign was US Airways flight 774 from London Heathrow to Philadelphia.

“Achieving a single operating certificate is an important step toward becoming a fully integrated airline and the effort to reach today’s milestone touched nearly every area of our company,” said Robert Isom, American’s Chief Operating Officer. “For a project of this scope, many entities and people must come together and see it through to completion, but one person must ultimately oversee it in its entirety. With that, our appreciation for the leadership of Captain and Senior Vice President, Integration Operations Ed Bular, who oversaw this massive project, along with the CAVOK Group under the leadership of Vice President Jim Ballough, cannot be overstated. Likewise, our frontline employees and the union leaders who represent them are to be enthusiastically applauded for their role in learning and implementing new policies and procedures and adhering to those as we move forward under one certificate.

“The FAA’s Joint Transition Team, led by Skip Whitrock, helped guide us through a rigorous process designed to ensure that our airline is built on a solid foundation of regulatory compliance. We are extremely appreciative of the valuable direction that Skip, Division Managers Nick Reyes and Larry Fieldsand all at the FAA have provided us over the past year.

“Lastly, as a global airline, this work spanned many regions. We thank the Department of Transportation and regulatory authorities in more than 50 countries who worked alongside us to ensure this critical project remained on track.”

From the traveler’s perspective, however, this change will not be as evident. While crew members on flights operated by US Airways may announce that the flight is operated by American Airlines,  American is only about 60% complete in updating their aircraft to the current livery (this percentage is higher among former US Airways airplanes as those have been a priority in the repainting process). And the company still must move to a single reservation system which is expected to occur later this year. Until then, customers will continue to reserve, check-in, and handle all other traveling functions through each airline’s respective website. Additionally, operations at many airports must still be combined; something that has taken equally as long as the regulatory process for past mergers.

About the Author

Douglas Wint
Doug Wint is an aviation enthusiast based in New York City. You can follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.


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