European regulators approve American-US Airways merger

Posted Tuesday, Aug. 06, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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There’s one fewer to-do item on the merger checklist for US Airways and AMR Corp., the parent of American Airlines.

On Monday, the European Commission approved the proposed deal, which will create the largest airline in the world.

That means the two airlines now only need approvals from U.S. antitrust regulators and the bankruptcy judge before Fort Worth-based American emerges from court protection and officially ties the knot with US Airways.

A ruling from the Justice Department is likely before Aug. 15, when the Bankruptcy Court is scheduled to hold a hearing to confirm AMR’s restructuring plan. Both airlines expect to close the merger by the end of September.

AMR CEO Tom Horton said the EC decision “represents one of the final milestones on our path to becoming the new American Airlines.”

As a condition of its approval, the European regulator is requiring the new combined carrier to give up one daily takeoff and landing slot between London’s Heathrow Airport and Philadelphia. Currently, Tempe, Ariz.-based US Airways operates one daily flight between London and Philadelphia, while American’s oneworld alliance partner, British Airways, operates two daily flights between the cities.

“The commitments include a corresponding slot at London Heathrow as well as far-reaching feeder arrangements to induce entry by a new competitor on the route,” EC official Joaquin Alumnia said in a statement. “We are therefore satisfied that the competitive dynamics will be maintained so as to ensure choice and quality of air services for passengers on this route.”

AMR’s creditors and shareholders overwhelmingly approved the company’s restructuring plan and merger last week, and US Airways shareholders signed off in July.

The combined company, to be called American Airlines Group, will be based in Fort Worth. Doug Parker, chairman and CEO of US Airways, will become chief executive officer, and Horton will become chairman.

“The new American will benefit customers in the United States, Europe and across the world by enhancing connectivity within the oneworld alliance and creating more options for travel both domestically and internationally,” Parker said.

Also Monday, US Airways said its consolidated passenger traffic rose 6.3 percent in July as the carrier increased its capacity by 3.0 percent.

Its load factor also grew 1.8 percentage points to 84.7 compared with the same month last year.

“Our July consolidated (mainline and Express) passenger revenue per available seat mile increased approximately five percent versus the same period last year,” US Airways President Scott Kirby said in a statement. “Notwithstanding the operational challenges created by high load factors and difficult summer weather conditions, our 32,000 team members continue to do a tremendous job of taking care of our customers.”

Andrea Ahles, 817-390-7631 Twitter: @Sky_Talk

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