Team Play: BA, AA and IB

British Airways, American Airlines and Iberia Airlines received trans-Atlantic anti-trust immunity to cooperate on routes between the United States and Europe late last year.  Since that time, all three have been maneuvering their operations to prepare for this cooperation.  Now it begins.

Previously, flights between JFK (New York city) and Heathrow (London) on AA and BA frequently left within minutes of each other.  Now, the two airlines will form a kind of “shuttle service” between New York City and London with departures from London to NYC in the afternoon leaving once every hour and flights from NYC to London leaving as frequently as every 20 minutes in the afternoon. 

Frequency is good.  Choice is good.  And I would be tempted to criticize that much frequency except that a quick check of schedules reveals that all of these aircraft are either BA 747-400s or AA 777-200s.   I do wonder if I haven’t identified where at least one British Airways A380 will fly routes.   It also makes me speculate that AA’s recent order of 777-300ERs might not be for quite as distant routes as we once thought. 

The airlines are also cooperating on other flights to between other cities.  Iberia will fly to California from Madrid.  Schedules between Miami and Spain will be coordinated going forward.  A check of flights between Dallas / Fort Worth and London Heathrow show 3 coordinated flights a day with 2 AA 777s and 1 BA 747.   There are 7 more connections (several at cheaper prices) available between those cities with stops in Chicago, Boston and Washington D.C.

Chicago to London flights as non-stops are a bit more frequent although all operated on 777s.  Chicago gets 6 evening departures to London and when you consider the connections that AA has in its Chicago hub, this should be good for everyone in Oneworld. 

I am struck by one thing now.  The biggest argument against such an alliance was the dominance both BA and AA would have between London and the United States.  Both were already dominant players by any measure.  The new schedule for these flights show real muscle flex and I wonder how any other airline competes against this partnership into London. 

This will be a very interesting alliance to watch for the next 2 years as it  grows and blossoms.  You have to wonder if Star Alliance and SkyTeam aren’t just a bit concerned at how this network unfolded on a global basis. 

One example:  QANTAS will soon be flying to DFW airport regularly from Australia.  It will be possible to leave Sydney, Australia on QANTAS at 1:25pm on a Monday, arrive at 1:50pm in DFW that same Monday ( I love how the international date line makes that possible) and then depart DFW at 6:05pm on British Airways to London Heathrow arriving at 9:00am the next morning.   Then one could hop a QANTAS flight from London Hearthrow at 12:00 noon and fly to Sydney, Australia via Singapore (fuel stop) arriving at 7:30pm the following day and thus completing a roundtrip flight on some of the longest flights in existence.

And you can book all of that through American Airlines’ website.  This is some real market power and it will be very interesting to see how people respond to the offerings these Oneworld partners will have arranged between themselves.

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