Update 8:00 p.m. EST: Say goodbye to the U.S. Airways brand and say hello to the world's biggest, badest and not-so-bankrupt airline: American. The boards of the two companies separately approved a massive merger on Wednesday night, say The Wall Street Journal's sources, ushering in a new era of the air travel business. The deal is expected to be formally announced on Thursday and, as The Washington Post points out, will mean that four airlines — Delta, United, Southwest and American — now control 86 percent of air travel in the United States. This trend of consolidation in the airline industry, analysts say, is actually a good thing. "I think people are going to frame this as fares going up and that's bad for the public," Joshua Schank, who runs the Eno Center for Transportation, told The Post. "But it has economic benefits for a country to be able to have a stable airline industry. That may outweigh the slight increase in fares, and, historically, fares are still low, and more people are flying."
Original Post: We've been waiting and waiting for the final confirmation that -- finally! -- American Airlines and U.S. Airways would complete their merger this week. It seems today is the big day. Bloomberg's Mary Schlangenstein & Beth Jinks report the two companies will approve the merger during their meetings today. One of the big questions was which companies CEO would head the new two-headed flying American beast. Schlangenstien and Jinks confirmed a previous Reuters report about the company's new management structure. U.S. Airways Chief Executive Officer Doug Parker will be CEO while American CEO Tom Horton will be the company's non-executive chairman. Parker was reportedly gunning for both roles, so it seems there has been some compromise there. WFAA's Jason Whitely reports the deal should be announced on Thursday morning.
The deal does face other obstacles before it can be 100 percent official, though. American Airlines has been in bankruptcy since November 2011, so it will have to be approved by the judge overseeing the company's bankruptcy proceedings. The company's unions will also have to vote on the merger. They will also need approval from the Justice Department and the Department of Transportation and the European Union. Those are not expected to hold up the deal in any way. It's harder than you might expect to merge two major airways, you know?
The company will reportedly keep the American Airlines name, and will be based out of American's Fort Worth, Texas headquarters. The new company will be worth an estimated $11 billion and form the biggest airline company in the world. Whether or it will be the best (and some certainly think it is not) remains to be seen.