AA-BA Alliance May Need Agency

By Kevin McCormack and Steve Krajewski
NEW YORK–American Airlines and British Airways are in the formative stages of devising a strategy to market a joint venture to carry one another’s passengers, pending regulatory approval of the plan.
Should it be approved, spending could reach $90 million globally, sources said.
Currently, it is not clear whether the roster agencies of the partnership, which includes Qantas Airways, will be invited to pitch the business or will be excluded in an effort to “depoliticize” the process, sources said.
American and BA are the dominant carriers and contributors to the proposed alliance. M&C Saatchi in London and New York handles creative for BA and Qantas, while Publicis buys its media. American is handled in Mexico and the U.S. by Temerlin McClain, Irving, Texas. DDB Needham, Dallas, handles international duties for American. The agencies declined to comment on the potential account. An American representative said discussions about agency assignments are premature, adding the alliance could win regulatory approval early next year.
Sources said the account will promote “code sharing,” an arrangement where passengers purchase a ticket from one airline but actually fly with another alliance carrier.
The American-BA alliance was announced in June 1996, but its implementation still requires regulatory approval. The U.S. Department of Transportation is studying the partnership at the request of eight state attorneys general. Competitors have also spoken against it, saying its scope is too vast.