US Airways Group Inc (NYSE:LCC) shareholders approved the carrier’s plan to merge with AMR Corporation (NYSE:AAR)’s American Airlines, clearing another hurdle to the deal that would create the world’s largest carrier.
US Air Chief Executive Doug Parker announced during the company’s annual meeting on Friday, that a sufficient number of shares were cast in favor of the merger based on preliminary results. The $11 billion merger deal was announced in February and the companies expect to complete it by the end of September, said Parker who will be chief executive of the new American Airlines, which will be based in Texas.
US Airways and AMR’s merger must be approved by regulators
The deal is seen as the vehicle to take AMR Corporation (NYSE:AAR) out of bankruptcy-court protection, where the company landed in late 2011. AMR’s creditors currently are voting on that plan of reorganization. If they approve it, a bankruptcy judge is expected to call a hearing on August 15 to confirm the reorganization and merger.
The transaction still requires approval of antitrust regulators, however. The European Union has indicated it will render its decision later this month. The U.S. Department of Justice has been looking at the combination for six months, and has been joined in that review by numerous state attorney generals. AMR Corporation (NYSE:AAR) and US Airways Group Inc (NYSE:LCC) have said they expect a green light and hope to close the transaction in the third quarter.
Domestic air-travel market
“The merger creates a fourth strong competitor to United, Delta and Southwest,” said Parker. If the American – US Airways Group Inc (NYSE:LCC) deal goes through, four airlines will control more than 80 percent of the domestic air-travel market.
Critics of the merger
Critics of the merger worry that it will reduce competition and drive up prices. Concern about less competition and higher fares also accompanied the combinations of Delta Air Lines, Inc. (NYSE:DAL) and Northwest in 2008, United and Continental in 2010, and Southwest and AirTran in 2011. Antitrust regulators allowed all those deals to go through.
Post merger scenario
The merger will produce annual savings and new revenue totaling more than $1 billion by 2015, the airlines have said. The combined airline will displace United Continental as the largest carrier, based on passenger traffic, and will operate more than 6,700 daily flights.
The new airline will keep American’s name and its Fort Worth headquarters. US Airways Group Inc (NYSE:LCC) executives will hold the top leadership positions. AMR Corporation (NYSE:AAR) CEO Tom Horton will serve as chairman until the combined airline’s first annual meeting.