BA launches alliance with Iberia, American Airlines

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British Airways on Wednesday launched its transatlantic alliance with Iberia of Spain and American Airlines, pledging cheaper fares and more travel choice as part of the cost-cutting initiative.

The bosses of all three groups met in London for the official launch of their 'oneworld' agreement for greater coordination over routes.

"Customers will be able to travel more easily on the airlines' combined route network which will serve more than 400 destinations in 105 countries with around 5,200 daily departures," the trio said in a joint statement.

The tie-up, approved by European and US regulators earlier this year, will allow them to cooperate commercially on flights between the European Union, Switzerland and Norway and the United States, Mexico and Canada.

"Today's route announcement is a great example of how by working together we can benefit customers," said BA chief executive Willie Walsh.

"Combined selling and scheduling means that we will be able to operate routes that would not have been viable for us to operate individually.

"This partnership will provide a one-stop shop for transatlantic travel regardless of how you book, which of our airlines you fly with or where you want to transfer."

He added: "We've waited 14 years to be able to do this, so it's an historic occasion."

BA, which is also close to a full merger with Iberia, said last week that the deal was worth a combined 7.0 billion dollars (5.1 billion euros) in annual revenues.

The three carriers meanwhile announced that they would launch four new services in April 2011, including a British Airways route between London Heathrow and San Diego in the United States.

Last year, British Airways, American Airlines and Iberia signed an agreement to cooperate on flights between North America and Europe to help them overcome soaring fuel costs and other industry woes.

Iberia chief executive Antonio Vazquez said the tie-up would allow Madrid to become a major gateway to the United States.

"The growth potential of our joint business and the extra capacity Madrid offers will enable the airport to become one of the main gateways for flights between North America and Europe in the very near future," Vazquez said.

© 2010 AFP

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