American sees single operating certificate in Q2 2015

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American Airlines chief operating officer Robert Isom anticipates receiving approval for a single operating certificate in the second quarter of 2015, as the carrier’s integration with US Airways continues to move forward.

The target is the first time that an executive from the Fort Worth, Texas-based carrier has provided any guidance more specific than 2015 for the actual operational integration of the two carriers.

“I can actually see pieces of the plan all the way up to the ninth revision cycle that are already at work,” says Isom on the sidelines of the Boyd Group International Aviation Summit in Las Vegas on 26 August. “It just gives me great confidence that we’re going to hit the targets that we want to.”

The “ninth revision cycle” is the final step in the phased approach that American devised to achieve a single operating certificate from the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), he explains.

The carrier is “firmly” in the fourth cycle, with aspects of the fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth cycles underway, says Isom.

“The approach that we’ve used is – there’s no big bang, there’s no light switch,” he says. “We want to have everyone trained up on both sides of the house so that our operating policies, procedures, everything that involves operating an aircraft safely… are all identical, mirror images at the time of single operating certificate.”

The certificate is a major milestone towards fully integrating American and US Airways. Other significant milestones to come include moving to a single reservations system and reaching joint labour agreements.

Isom says that the reservations cut over is still expected later in 2015, after which US Airways flight numbers will disappear though some flights may continue to be “operated by US Airways”.

The carrier’s two operations teams will also consolidate in a new integrated operations centre in Fort Worth in the third quarter of 2015. Ground was broken on the 13,842m2 (149,000ft2) facility in July.

The American-US Airways merger has gone relatively smoothly since the deal closed in December 2013. The carriers implemented a codeshare and US Airways moved to the Oneworld alliance from Star Alliance in the first quarter largely without a hitch.

Doug Parker, chief executive of American, told Flightglobal jokingly in July that none of the hitches that they have faced to date have been notable enough “for you to write about”.