US officials are taking a close look at codeshare agreements between mainline carriers and their regional partners with an eye to improving safety and ensuring that customers know which airline they will be flying when they buy a ticket.
The FAA announced it will conduct an audit of codeshare programmes through the Department of Transportation's Office of Inspector General. The audit objective is to examine the legal authority the FAA has to review codeshare agreements between mainline carriers and their partners and to assess policies and procedures to ensure there is a single line of safety. It will also determine whether airline passengers are provided the information they need to "make informed decisions when purchasing an airline ticket".
FAA notes that more than 130,000 regional airline flights take place every day and approximately 160 million passengers travel on regional aircraft each year. The regional airlines work under contract, or a joint marketing agreement, with mainline partners to provide feed to major hubs and service to smaller communities.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is also focusing on codeshare relationships, with a symposium scheduled for 26-27 October in Washington, DC.
The NTSB symposium will look at structures, practices and oversight of codesharing arrangements; determine best practices for sharing safety information; and explore the role of a mainline carrier in the event of an accident involving one of its codeshare partners.
Codesharing and partnerships between US major carriers and regional airlines received a high level of scrutiny after the fatal crash of a Colgan Air Bombardier Q400 in February 2009. The flight was operated as Continental Connection.