American, US Airways to begin combining reservation systems

An American Airlines Boeing 757 taxis past a U.S. Airways Airbus A-321 jet at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport. (Star-Telegram/Rodger Mallison)
An American Airlines Boeing 757 taxis past a U.S. Airways Airbus A-321 jet at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport. (Star-Telegram/Rodger Mallison) Star-Telegram

The countdown to the end of US Airways has begun.

American Airlines, which merged with US Airways in 2013, told frequent flier customers on Friday that the last US Airways flight will depart on Oct. 16, marking the end of a nearly two-year inegration process.

Starting Oct. 17, all flights on the airline will be American Airlines flights. The US Airways website will no longer take reservations and all of the self-service kiosks in the airports will have American’s computer application on it. The mobile app that customers can use will also only be American’s starting on that date.

“The travel experience will be seamless, so they will be able to check in at any American counter rather than having to know to go to a US Airways counter,” said Kerry Philipovitch, American’s senior vice president for customer experience. She added that the company has hired 600 new airport agents and 1,300 reservation agents to help with the transition.

The Fort Worth-based carrier will also start migrating any reservations on US Airways flights scheduled on or after Oct. 17 to American’s reservation systems.

Chief Information Officer Maya Liebman, who is overseeing the passenger reservation system integration, said it will take American employees all weekend to migrate the existing reservations as part of a “complex process.”

Customers who had already booked flights on US Airways for late October will receive an email from American with their new reservation number and new flight number. They will not notice any differences on US Airways’ website over the July 17 weekend when the migration occurs, she said.

“When we do the reservations migration, there is nothing for customers to do,” Liebman said. “There is no need to call reservations.”

Instead of combining American and US Airways’ reservations and transferring all the data overnight, American will slowly move the data or “drain down” the US Airways systems over the next 90 days. Customers and travel agents will still be able to book flights on US Airways’ website and through its reservation system as long as the flight is scheduled before Oct. 17. If the flight the customer is trying to book is after that date, they will be redirected to American’s website.

By migrating data slowly, American hopes to avoid some of the computer problems that other airlines have had during technology transfers after a merger.

Leibman expects about 10 percent of current US Airways passenger reservations are for flights after Oct. 17 and will need to be migrated this weekend.

Separately on Friday, American Airlines reported that passenger traffic rose 2.8 percent in June as it added 2.4 percent capacity to its network.

The carrier said planes were fuller in the busy summer travel month as its load factors were up 0.4 percentage points to 85.4 percent.

American reiterated to Wall Street analysts that it expects unit revenues to be down six to eight percent in the second quarter compared to last year. It also expects its second-quarter pretax margin, excluding special items, to be between 16 and 18 percent.

The company also lowered its system capacity forecast, saying it will increase capacity by one percent instead of two percent in 2015. Domestic capacity is forecast to be up one to two percent instead of the prior guidance of two to three percent.

“This should be well received by the market as the company looks to better align capacity with demand,” said Cowen and Company analyst Helane Becker in a note to investors on Friday morning.

Shares of American [ticker: AAL] were up almost 4 percent, closing at $41.21 on Friday.

Andrea Ahles, 817-390-7631

Twitter: @Sky_Talk