This thread on FlyerTalk generated some spirited discussion. It seems that rumors of a potential merger between American Airlines and US Airways were making their way around in mid-November. Having spent over 10 years in the airline business, let me tell you now that rumors run like kudzoo at an airline. I swear we used to start them on purpose just to see how long it would take for a rumor to travel from one crew base to the next. I’m only partly kidding about that!
But back to the topic at hand. The thread references a TheStreet.com article suggesting the possibility of a merger. The article references American’s relative absence from the southeastern United States and the ability to add US Airways’ passengers to its international flights as possible reasons for a hookup.
You can read the FT thread and the article and form your own opinion, but here’s mine. Do I think American could merge with US Airways? Sure. Do I think they will, or that they even want to? No. That said, rest assured that American’s managers have probably considered every possible scenario with most any “acquirable” airline, including US Airways, and if they felt they had to, they would probably make the move.
But I think there’s another scenario, far less messy than a full merger, that may be in the works. As you know, Continental recently joined the Star Alliance and has moved into a very close partnership with United Airlines right down to the point that United is aligning its elite frequent flier upgrade program to match Continental’s. US Airways has been (and still is) a big domestic codeshare partner with United. But you have to wonder, with Continental moving into a much closer relationship with United, is US Airways starting to feel a bit like the lonely girl at the big dance?
It’s pretty obvious that US Airways wanted to do a deal with United, but they were far more interested in Continental. Could US Airways be lured out of Star and into Oneworld, and a closer domestic relationship with American? Maybe, maybe not. But it’s a fun thought. And such a deal would offer a lot of benefits to American without the mess of an operational merger with US Airways and its apparently forever feuding pilot groups. I can’t fathom trying to put that together with American’s own pilots. This will be interesting to watch.