FORT WORTH, Texas - One week following an unprecedented display of bipartisan support in the Senate, 89 members of the House of Representatives yesterday sent letters to Department of Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta urging DOT to grant the two carriers rights that are already explicitly permitted under the existing aviation bilateral agreement between the United States and the United Kingdom.
Led by Representative Henry Bonilla (R-Texas) and House Democratic Caucus Chairman Martin Frost (D-Texas), the representatives asked the DOT to promptly approve the application.
Among the group showing bipartisan support for the agreement are: incoming House Majority Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), House Appropriations Committee Chairman Bill Young (R-Florida), House Budget Committee Chairman Jim Nussle (R-Iowa), House International Relations Committee Chairman Henry J. Hyde (R-Ill.), House Minority Leader Richard A. Gephardt (D-Mo.), and House Ways and Means Committee Ranking Member Charles B. Rangel (D-N.Y.). In their letter, the elected officials state that the codeshare would provide a much-needed boost to the travel and tourism sectors in many small and mid-sized communities.
Last week, 37 senators, led by Senate Assistant Republican Leader Don Nickles (R-Okla.) and Ranking Democrat on the Senate Agriculture Committee Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), sent a similar letter of support to Secretary Mineta. Since then, Senator Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) and Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) have also urged DOT to approve the American Airlines-British Airways codeshare application to DOT, raising the total number of Senators in support of the proposal to 39.
The two carriers filed an application with DOT last month seeking regulatory approval to offer certain codeshare services already permitted under the current provisions of the U.S.-U.K. Air Services Agreement. Although American and British Airways already enjoy a successful partnership as founding members of the oneworld alliance, American is the only U.S. airline that has not been granted codeshare rights with its principal European partner. DOT approval would allow American and British Airways to be more fully competitive with other U.S.-European alliances, such as United/Lufthansa/British Midland and Delta/Air France/Alitalia, which already enjoy extensive regulatory approvals.
American and British Airways previously sought antitrust immunity for an extensive cooperative alliance predicated on an open skies agreement between the United States and the United Kingdom. Recent developments make open skies with the United Kingdom in the near term unlikely and have prompted the carriers, in the interim, to deepen their relationship by seeking approval for more limited codesharing, as explicitly authorized by the existing air services agreement.
American intends to place its code on British Airways’ services beyond American’s U.K. gateways to key destinations in the United Kingdom and Ireland, continental Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. American also would place its code on British Airways’ trans-Atlantic service between New York (JFK) and Manchester.
British Airways, in turn, would place its code on American`s flights beyond British Airways’ U.S. gateway cities to points in the United States and to Mexico, the Caribbean and Latin America. British Airways would also place its code on American’s flights between Chicago O`Hare and Glasgow and Manchester. The application submitted by the two carriers does not include codesharing on each other’s trans-Atlantic services to London.
American Airlines is the world`s largest carrier. American, in concert with American Eagle and the AmericanConnection regional carriers, makes up the American Airlines network. Together, they serve more than 250 cities in 41 countries and territories with approximately 4,400 daily flights. The combined network fleet numbers more than 1,100 aircraft. Only American provides More Room Throughout Coach for More Coach Passengers. American Airlines is a founding member of the oneworld alliance.