With Skittles, Oreos and cake, American Airlines celebrated receiving its single operating certificate from the Federal Aviation Administration on Wednesday.
Even though the merger between American and US Airways closed in December 2013, the airlines had to operate separately until Wednesday. It usually takes 18 to 24 months to complete the paperwork necessary for the FAA to grant the operating certificate.
The airlines needed to combine operating policies and procedures. Over 700 employees worked on merging 300 manuals at the airlines with more than 115,000 pages of policies, said Ed Bular, a senior vice president at American who led the effort. The process began when American and US Airways filed their 300-page transition plan with the FAA in October 2013.
“We were zero days behind schedule,” Bular said, noting the airlines met their goal of receiving a single operating certificate by the first half of 2015.
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Customers are unlikely to notice a difference once the single operating certificate is issued. There will still be US Airways aircraft and flight schedules as American works to combine reservation systems and flight operations.
“Once we get to a single reservation system for our customers, it will look and feel like a combined airline,” American CEO Doug Parker said, referring to a technology project that should be completed in the fall. “We can do that now because we have a single operating certificate.”
With the certificate, American will begin reporting statistics to the FAA, such as on-time arrivals, as one carrier instead of two.
Pilots will also now use the “American” call sign when talking to air traffic controllers instead of US Airways’ “Cactus” call sign. The last flight to use the “Cactus” call sign was a US Airways flight from London Heathrow that arrived in Philadelphia on Wednesday morning.
Andrea Ahles, 817-390-7631