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American Airlines and US Airways received a single operating certificate from the Federal Aviation Administration today. In plain language, the two are now officially a single carrier…sort of.

According to American’s announcement: “Beginning today, most flight operations, maintenance and dispatch procedures will be identical for all flights. Air traffic control communications will refer to all American and US Airways flights with the call sign ‘American.’”

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What’s in a name?

Does that mean that suddenly all US Airways planes are now American Airlines planes? Not really. It doesn’t amount to much of a change at all as far as the customer experience goes. In fact, it is actually much less dramatic a development for flyers than the recent combination of the AAdvantage and Dividend Miles programs late in March.

You will notice that still exists and you can use it to book flight, US Airways’ customer service numbers are all still operable, and you will still see US Airways planes in the skies around the country. Basically, it’s just a behind-the-scenes name change.

It is, however, still another major regulatory step forward toward the eventual merger of the two airlines into a single entity, and comes 18 months into what has already been a drawn-out process. The next big development we should see is the combination of reservations systems sometime later this year, and at that point, customers should notice some major synchronizations taking place between the two airlines, including the disappearance of the US Airways website.

So this is big news for the two airlines as they continue their march down the aisle, but not so much for flyers, who won’t see anything like a streamlined airline operation from the two for several months to come yet.

For more on the merger and its developments, check out our series of posts on the topic:

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