Codeshare agreement

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A codeshare agreement, sometimes simply codeshare, is an aviation business arrangement where two airlines share the same flight. A seat can be purchased on one airline but is actually operated by a cooperating airline under a different flight number or code. The term "code" refers to the identifier used in flight schedule, generally the 2-character IATA airline designator code and flight number. Thus, XX123, flight 123 operated by the airline XX, might also be sold by airline YY as YY456 and by ZZ as ZZ9876. It allows greater access to cities through a given airline's network without having to offer extra flights, and makes connections simpler by allowing single bookings across multiple planes. Most major airlines today have code sharing partnerships with other airlines and code sharing is a key feature of the major airline alliances.

Under a code sharing agreement, the airline that actually operates the flight (the one providing the plane, the crew and the ground handling services) is called the operating carrier. The company or companies that sell tickets for that flight but do not actually operate it are called marketing carriers or validating carriers.



In 1967, Richard A. Henson joined with US Airways predecessor, Allegheny Airlines, in the nation's first codeshare relationship.[1] The term "code sharing" or "codeshare" was coined in 1989 by Qantas Airways and American Airlines (Financial Review—November 21, 1989), and 1990 the two firms provided their first codeshare flights between an array of U.S. domestic cities and Australian cities. Code sharing has become widespread in the airline industry since that time, particularly in the wake of the formation of large airline 'alliances.' These alliances have extensive codesharing and networked frequent flyer programs.

Reasons and advantages

Under a code sharing agreement, participating airlines can present a common flight number for several reasons, including:

For passengers

  • Connecting flights – This provides clearer routing for the customer, allowing a customer to book travel from point A to C through point B under one carrier's code, instead of a customer booking from point A to B under one code, and from point B to C under another code. This is not only a superficial addition as cooperating airlines also strive to synchronize their schedules and coordinate luggage handling, which makes transfers between connecting flights less time-consuming.
  • Shared responsibility between the carriers – When flying between two cities without a single-airline connection, the passenger can pick a codeshared flight over two airlines or two flights booked separately. If the flights are not codeshared, then the second airline has no responsibility if the passenger or luggage misses the second flight due to a delay with the first. Under a codeshared flight, the second airline is unlikely to charge extra fees or deny boarding should the first, cooperating airline cause a delay.

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