Lufthansa, United to Announce Partnership Monday
LONDON (AP) _ United Airlines and Lufthansa German Airlines are about to team up and join the air travel industry’s growing list of alliances that let rival carriers share passengers, sources said Friday.
Lufthansa had been courting United and American Airlines, but United will be the partner announced by the German carrier at a news conference Monday in Frankfurt, according to airline sources who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Terms of the United-Lufthansa deal, which isn’t to be signed until Monday and is subject to regulators’ approval, involve a ″code sharing″ agreement that allows carriers to list connecting services under one flight number. The two would also share frequent flier incentives, sources said.
Code-sharing deals have become more popular in recent years as airlines try to expand their global reach without forming outright mergers with other carriers.
Lufthansa, seeking greater access to the lucrative U.S. market, won the right to code-share with an American partner during recent talks between U.S. and German regulators.
Code-sharing enables airlines to pick up more passengers by giving connecting flights higher priority in computer reservations systems. Often, consumers believe the single airline code means their entire journey will be made on one carrier. Many, fearful of missing connections and losing luggage, would rather avoid changing airlines during their trip.
Airlines in code-sharing agreements typically coordinate their schedules and sometimes move their gates closer at hub airports. Lufthansa plans to use United’s gates at Chicago’s O’Hare International Aiport.
Neither Lufthansa nor United would confirm the arrangement Friday. A Lufthansa spokesman in London said only that Monday’s news conference would concern a code-sharing arrangement in North America. Chicago-based United would say only that it was aware of Lufthansa’s news conference Monday.
Gerd Leidinger, a Lufthansa spokesman in Germany, said an agreement would be signed Monday in Frankfurt and then made public at a news conference.
United plans to continue its code-sharing agreement with British Midland, a regional carrier, sources said.
The arrangement between United and Lufthansa could pose a competitive threat to Delta Air Lines, which operates the old Pan American World Airways hub in Frankfurt.
Delta’s arrival nearly two years ago was an unwelcome development for Lufthansa, because the Atlanta-based Delta has a much more extensive route structure in the huge American market than now-defunct Pan Am had enjoyed. This gives Delta a big advantage in picking up passengers from small- and medium-sized U.S. cities that don’t have international flights.
A United-Lufthansa partnership would attract passengers from hundreds of cities served by United in America, and from the German and other foreign destinations that Lufthansa serves.