Although the merger must still pass regulatory muster, few foresee major problems. The Justice and Transportation departments have to approve the pairing, but in recent years they OK'd the Delta-Northwest and United-Continental mergers, both of which had more overlaps.
Whether the tie-up represents sound policy is another matter. Consumer advocates worry about higher fares, but some economists say that airline stability—noticeably lacking over much of the U.S. industry's history—will prove to be the greater good. The financial community welcomes this merger and industry consolidation as a whole, though passengers are left with fewer choices. But all the previous mergers did not lead to raising fares: U.S. travelers are paying less for tickets than in 2000. And Parker asserts that having three strong network carriers will give many U.S. fliers more options, not fewer.
Government regulatory authorities could still ask the merged carrier for certain concessions, if they determine that its combined marketshare would be too large. It might be required to divest some takeoff and landing rights at certain slot-controlled airports, such as Washington's National, where the merged carrier would dominate.
Other changes await on the regional front. Three wholly owned regional carriers—AMR Corp.'s American Eagle Airlines and US Airways' Piedmont Airlines and PSA Airlines—will continue to operate as distinct entities. American Eagle eventually will be the brand for those.
The US Airways-American combination may not look so significant from a global perspective, but there are some important ramifications to keep in mind. There will now be three big airline blocks in each of three major air transport markets: China (Air China, China Southern Airlines and China Eastern Airlines), Europe (Lufthansa, Air France-KLM and International Airlines Group) and the U.S. (American, United and Delta).
The merger will lead to one major change in the alliance world, with the Star Alliance losing U.S. partners, as the combined carrier will stay in American's Oneworld.
With Joseph C. Anselmo in Washington.
Tap here in the tablet edition of AW&ST for more analysis and data on American Airlines and US Airways fleets, traffic and finances, or go to
New American Airlines
|Employees ||AMR Corp., 81,400; American Airlines, 66,600; US Airways, 32,213|
|Destinations||American, 260; US Airways, 198|
|Hubs||American Airlines, 5; US Airways, 3|
|Aircraft||American Airlines, 608 (mainline) and 281 (regional); US Airways, 340 (mainline) and 282 (regional) as of 2012|
|Full-Year 2012 Operating Revenue||AMR, $24.9 billion and US Airways, $13.8 billion|
|Full-Year 2012 Operating Expenses||AMR, $24.7 billion and US Airways, $13.0 billion|
|Full-Year 2012 Operating Income||AMR, $107 million and US Airways, $856 million|
|Full-Year 2012 Available Seat Miles||AMR, 166.2 billion (consolidated) and US Airways, 88.4 billion (consolidated)|
|Delta Air Lines|
|Aircraft||717 (mainline) and 562 (regional for Delta Connection)|
|Full-Year 2012 Operating Revenue||$36.7 billion|
|Full-Year 2012 Operating Expenses||$34.5 billion|
|Full-Year 2012 Operating Income||$2.2 billion|
|Full-Year 2012 Available Seat Miles||230.4 billion (consolidated)|
|Aircraft||699 (mainline) and 554 (regional)|
|Full-Year 2012 Operating Revenue||$37.2 billion|
|Full-Year 2012 Operating Expenses||$37.1 billion|
|Full-Year 2012 Operating Income||$39 million|
|Full-Year 2012 Available Seat Miles||248.9 billion (consolidated)|