The merger between American Airlines Group Inc. (Nasdaq: AAL) and US Airways Group, Inc. closed in December, but many integration challenges lie ahead, including sorting out the future of significant relationships forged by the airlines before their union. One question has been how frequent flier programs and affinity credit cards would be affected. Details are beginning to emerge, indicating that Citigroup Inc. (NYSE: C) and Barclaycard US, the American credit card division of London’s Barclays PLC (NYSE: BCS), will both have a seat at the table after the airlines combine their frequent flier programs and affinity credit cards, but the issuers will have somewhat different roles.
The arrangement preserves Citi’s position as the combined airline's exclusive issuer of frequent flier cards, and allows Barclaycard to maintain its existing accounts using American's AAdvantage program branding. Following the planned integration of the AAdvantage and US Airways Dividend Miles frequent flier loyalty programs by mid-2015, Citi will exclusively issue new credit card accounts in support of the combined American frequent flier program, John Gerspach, the chief financial officer of New York-based Citi, said during a Jan. 16 investor call to discuss fourth quarter 2013 earnings.