I am hearing some rumblings tonight that an announcement is coming as early as Monday morning that US Airways and American Airlines may officially tie the knot. With news on Friday that American Airlines’ labor unions have thrown their support behind a deal with US Airways, this should come as no surprise.
Although I repeat this is only rumor, it appears the combined airline will take the American Airlines name, maintain its headquarters in Fort Worth, and be run by US Airways CEO Doug Parker. Apparently, Parker has caved into all AA labor demands and will attempt to use the AA labor contract to finally bring an end to the labor standoff between US West and US East. Recall that although America West and US Airways “merged” in 2005, the two carriers still essentially operate as separate airlines. Operating certificates, seniority lists, and routes remain separate and despite nearly seven years of negotiations, no end to the impasse is in sight. Using AA labor contracts will still require approval from both sides of US Airways, but presents a path forward that the airline has repeatedly failed to chart.
I have no information on which alliance the combined carrier will align with, but the odds are heavily stacked in favor of OneWord. I think there is about zero chance that a major alliance would cede their only North American carrier. While I do not even think it will be much of a fight, you can bet that OneWorld will do just about anything to keep the new AA from defecting to Star Alliance.
For frequent flyers, nothing will change now and I suspect the popular American Airlines AAdvantage program will remain. That is months away, though, so you do not even have to worry about that quite yet.
Finally, it merits noting that a merger will have to clear regulatory hurdles, and although I think AA/US will ultimately succeed, Congress, even without James Oberstar, may pose an obstacle.
This could be an interesting day.