American Airlines and the former US Airways are getting closer to operating as one airline.
On Saturday, American will merge its legacy US Airways pilots computer systems into its own flight operating system. The Fort Worth-based carrier does not expect travelers to be affected by the technology integration.
“Similar to the reservation system integration that we did last year, our mantra around this program is how do we reduce risk so the integration goes as smoothly as possible,” said American’s chief information officer, Maya Leibman. “If something did happen, it could be that there are some minimal delays as a result.”
The flight operating system, known at American as FOS, includes over 500 computer applications that do everything from controlling the movement of aircraft to crew scheduling to vacation bids to checking in to work a flight. Even though American and US Airways closed their merger in late 2013, the carrier’s pilot crews are still operating as separate carriers. With the integration, former US Airways pilots may find themselves sharing a cockpit with a former American pilot.
“By integrating FOS, which is critical to achieving our merger synergies … it allows us to manage our airline with a single system,” said Kimball Stone, American’s vice president of flight, adding that pilots will now be able to bid to work on any flight in the system. “From a pilot perspective, it is very, very attractive for them to be able to bid on any crew base that they want to bid on, any piece of equipment that they are qualified for. … It opens up an enormous amount of opportunity for all our pilots.”
The Allied Pilots Association, which represents the 15,000 pilots at American, said it is prepared to help pilots work with the new system, which includes a new integrated seniority list.
“For the sake of our pilots and other front-line employees and most importantly our passengers, we hope the transition goes smoothly,” union spokesman Dennis Tajer said.
The company is performing the systems integration on a fall weekend when there are fewer flights. Leibman said the airline will have thousands of people working over the next month to make sure the systems are running smoothly and answering any questions pilots may have.
The carrier still has to integrate its flight attendants operating systems and expects to combine those next year, Leibman said.