US American Airways

It’s not a catchy name, in that form.

Last Friday, AMR/American Airlines capitulated a bit in publicly stating it would engage in examining the possibility of a merger with some other airline.   This after beating a drum for 2 weeks that it was fine, there was nothing to see here and American Airlines was a better airline if it exited bankruptcy as a stand alone enterprise first.

The thing is, an airline in bankruptcy is answerable to many parties.  It must answer to the courts and creditors and it must justify its decisions, particularly those related to bankruptcy, at every turn.  There isn’t nearly as much maneuvering room to do what one wants to do in those conditions and I’ve often wondered over the past few months if that wasn’t the prime driver for Gerard Arpey’s decision to leave the company.

Is this a merger?  Nope, not yet.  But US Airways has played this very, very well so far.  They’ve got the public support of unions and have managed to make themselves look more and more attractive to interested parties who aren’t tied to AA through employment or as a major creditor.   The next steps will be to win over Boeing by reaffirming the aircraft orders made last year and to win over HP by reaffirming a desire to go forward with the new reservations systems.  Not hard to do as any merged entity will need both the new aircraft as well as the new reservations systems.

My prediction is that we’ll see some sort of understanding between the two airlines some time in June.  It will be about brotherhood and great synergies and that no one need to worry about their jobs.  Worst case scenario sees Tom Horton elevated to non-executive chairman (and I doubt that that happens) with a small handful of American executives retained.  More practically, Tom Horton leaves for a different industry and maybe 1 or 2 executives are retained for the new company.

The best part will be seeing the new livery for such a company.


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