US Airways could forge a new marketing alliance with British Airways as a result of the projected tie-ups by both carriers with American Airlines. The deal would go ahead only under certain conditions, says Stephen Wolf, head of US Airways Group.

The prospect of a global marketing pact was set up by US Airways' attempt to form a similar deal with American Airlines - which, although wide reaching, does not include code-sharing because of provisions in pilot contracts.

A link between BA and US Airways would result from approval of the American/BA global alliance, which has been bogged down for months by a European Commission investigation. The deal still requires approval by the two governments and agreement on an open skies pact.

Wolf says that he is open to the idea of an alliance with BA, but part of the price would have to be allowing US Airways to become a major player at London Heathrow Airport. The new liberalised bilateral air services agreement would also have to be in place.

In the meantime, the US airline is pressing ahead with its 1996 breach of contract court case against BA, alleging violation of their 1993 transatlantic alliance. The falling out also prompted the UK airline to sell its 24.5% stake in US Airways. The US carrier is also continuing to press for sanctions against BA because of the UK Government's failure to provide US Airways with access to London Gatwick Airport.

Wolf does not favour a codeshare deal with American, calling the practice "a massive deception". He adds that he would have no choice but to proceed if code-share agreements are approved for rivals.

Wolf says that he will soon select the Boeing 767-300/400 or the Airbus Industrie A330-200 to fill his airline's widebody requirement. It is believed that the carrier will order 12-15 aircraft.

Rakesh Gangwal, who was instrumental in bringing Wolf to US Airways, has been named chief executive. He has served as chief operating officer since 1996. Wolf continues as chairman and chief executive of US Airways Group.

Source: Flight International