British Airways (BAIRY)
will begin a joint venture next month on flights across the Atlantic with American Airlines (AMR)
, after nearly 13 years of planning.
The carriers will align their frequent-flier programs, allowing travelers to earn and use miles on the two airlines, Bloomberg News said
. They will coordinate their schedule in 2011, then add new destinations in the U.S. and Europe.
"We're very excited about that," Simon Talling-Smith, British Airways' vice president for the Americas, told Bloomberg News. "We're going to work a lot harder with the other airlines to make sure that when our customers connect at key airports, like Chicago, like London, New York or Madrid, that the connection is a lot smoother."
British Airways and American Airlines won regulatory approval for the deal in July, after regulators blocked the planned link-up in 1997 and 2001. Together, the two will control almost half of U.S. flights at Heathrow Airport.