Agreement to allow US Airways, American Airlines merger - KAIT-Jonesboro, AR-News, weather, sports

Agreement to allow US Airways, American Airlines merger

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American Airlines and US Airways announced that the airlines have settled the litigation brought by the U.S. Department of Justice, the States of Arizona, Florida, Michigan and Tennessee, the Commonwealths of Pennsylvania and Virginia, and the District of Columbia challenging the merger of AMR and US Airways.

The companies also announced an agreement with the U.S. Department of Transportation related to small community service from Washington Reagan National Airport.

Tom Horton, chairman, president and CEO of AMR, and incoming chairman of the board of the combined company, said, "This is an important day for our customers, our people and our financial stakeholders. This agreement allows us to take the final steps in creating the new American Airlines. With a renewed spirit, we are about to create the world's leading airline that will offer, along with our oneworld® partners, a comprehensive global network and service by the best people in the business. There is much more work ahead of us but we're energized by the challenge and look forward to competing vigorously in the ever-changing global marketplace."

Doug Parker, chairman and CEO of US Airways, and incoming CEO of the combined airline, said, "This is very good news and we are grateful to all who have made it happen. In particular, we are thankful to our employees, who throughout this process continued to believe in a better future as one airline and who voiced their support passionately and consistently. We also want to thank the elected officials in the states and communities we serve, the business leaders in our hub cities, and the thousands of customers who endorsed and supported this effort. Thank you as well to the U.S. Department of Justice, the state attorneys general and the U.S. Department of Transportation. We are pleased to have this lawsuit behind us and look forward to building the new American Airlines together."

Under the terms of the settlement, the airlines will divest 52 slot pairs at Washington Reagan National Airport (DCA) and 17 slot pairs at New York LaGuardia Airport (LGA), as well as certain gates and related facilities to support service at those airports.[i] The airlines also will divest two gates and related support facilities at each of Boston Logan International Airport, Chicago O'Hare International Airport, Dallas Love Field, Los Angeles International Airport, and Miami International Airport. The divestitures will occur through a DOJ approved process following the completion of the merger. Despite the divestitures, the new American is still expected to generate more than $1 billion in annual net synergies beginning in 2015, as was estimated when the merger was announced in February.

After completion of the required divestitures, the combined company expects to operate 44 fewer daily departures at DCA and 12 fewer daily departures at LGA than the approximately 290 daily DCA departures and 175 daily LGA departures that American and US Airways operate today.[ii] The divestitures required by the settlement are not expected to impact total employment at the new American.

To ensure much of the service currently operated by the carriers to small- and medium-sized markets from DCA is maintained, the new American has agreed with the DOT to use all of its DCA commuter slot pairs for service to these communities. The new American intends to announce the service changes that will result from the divestitures in advance of the sale of the DCA and LGA slots, so that the airlines acquiring those slots have the opportunity to maintain service to those impacted communities.

In the settlement agreement with the state Attorneys General, the new American has agreed to maintain its hubs in Charlotte, New York (Kennedy), Los Angeles, Miami, Chicago (O'Hare), Philadelphia, and Phoenix consistent with historical operations for a period of three years.  In addition, with limited exceptions, for a period of five years, the new American will continue to provide daily scheduled service from one or more of its hubs to each plaintiff state airport that has scheduled daily service from either American or US Airways. A previous settlement agreement with the state of Texas will be amended to make it consistent with today's settlement.

Completion of the merger remains subject to the approval of the settlements by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, and certain other conditions. The companies now expect to complete the merger in December 2013.

Charlotte Mayor Patsy Kinsey released the following statement following the announcement: "I'm pleased that US Airways and American Airlines may now move forward to complete their merger and I'm excited about the benefits it holds for our City.  Charlotte Douglas is slated to become the combined airlines' second-busiest hub—a move that would provide our residents and businesses with additional travel options, enhance our ability to attract and retain corporate headquarters in our region, and strengthen our local economy.  I look forward to continuing to work with the airlines' leadership to grow Charlotte Douglas and operate it as one the best-performing, lowest-cost airports in the country."

"We've seen a 20 year consolidation of the airline industry. This is probably the last major piece of the consolidation puzzle, but let's be clear about this," said Bob Morgan, Charlotte Chamber President. "This is not American swallowing US Airways. US Airways went after American Airlines. This is David and Goliath if you will and it is a remarkable story." 

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