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American Airlines and US Airways Close on Merger, Creating World’s Largest Airline

@denschaal

Dec 09, 2013 8:06 am

Skift Take

The merger of US Airways and American Airlines is now a done deal. That was easy. Now comes the hard part.

— Dennis Schaal

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Ron T. Ennis  / Fort Worth Star-Telegram/MCT

Pilots from both airlines gather for a photo with Doug Parker, left, then of U.S. Airways and Tom Horton of American Airlines after the announcement of the airlines' merger during a news conference at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, Thursday, February 14, 2013. Ron T. Ennis / Fort Worth Star-Telegram/MCT


American Airlines CEO Doug Parker gathered with employees of the new American Airlines this morning at headquarters in Fort Worth, Texas to mark the closing of the $11 billion US Airways and American Airlines merger, and the termination of AMR Corp.’s bankruptcy restructuring.

Employees of the airline gathered with Parker, who headed US Airways, choreographed the merger and will lead the new American Airlines Group with now-former American Airlines CEO Tom Horton as chairman, beginning at 7:45 a.m. Central, and from the remote location were to ring NASDAQ’s opening bell.

With the closing of the $11 billion transaction taking place before the market’s open, the airline’s common stock was to begin trading on the NASDAQ Global Select Market under the symbol “AAL.”

AMR Corp.’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy, which was filed in November 2011, and the merger process had twists and turns at almost every juncture.

Complete Coverage of American Airlines and US Airways Merger:

Then-American Airlines CEO Horton resisted the overtures of Parker, who lined up the unions to support the marriage. Horton’s proposed $20 million severance, which was to be doled out after he departs from his chairman’s role of the merged airline became an issue in the AMR Corp. bankruptcy proceedings, and the court ultimately held that the matter would have to be decided after the merger.

The most notable curve ball was the U.S. Justice Department stepping in August 2013 and filing suit to block the merger on antitrust grounds.

After three months of uncertainty, the DOJ and the merger partners reached a settlement, which included divestiture of 69 slot pairs at Reagan National Airport and LaGuardia, as well as the loss of two gates each at Miami, Chicago O’Hare, Los Angeles, Boston Logan and Dallas Love Field.

The new American loses 112 daily flights as a result of the settlement, and will have 6,700 daily flights.

One of the last major steps — but not the last — leading to today’s closing of the transaction, was bankruptcy court approval of the settlement, and this put the process on a fast track.

But even up until Saturday night December 7, there must have been some nail-biting at US  Airways and American Airlines. On that evening, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg denied a bid by consumers and travel agents to block the merger.

As much angst as there was during the merger process, now the real work begins as the new American continues work on the arduous task of merging fleets and frequent flyer programs, and migrating to the American Airlines reservations system.

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