Airline merger wave crests with American-US Airways

  • Article by: KELLY YAMANOUCHI , Cox Newspapers
  • Updated: February 18, 2013 - 11:59 PM

At Delta hubs in Minneapolis-St. Paul and Atlanta, the merger is not likely to have a major impact.

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American Airlines CEO Tom Horton, left, and US Airways CEO Doug Parker were all smiles on Thursday.

Photo: LM Otero, Associated Press

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— The merger of American Airlines and US Airways will create a new mega-carrier that will be a stronger national and international rival for Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines.

And Delta’s OK with that.

“We think it’s good for the industry,” Delta President Ed Bastian said last week as the American-US Airways deal took shape. He added that it would lead to more “disciplined” competition in the industry.

The deal is seen as concluding an era of consolidation that started with the Delta-Northwest merger of 2008 and has now shrunk the industry to four major players: United, American-US Airways, Delta and Southwest.

US Airways chief executive Doug Parker sees the deal as the last major airline merger among U.S. carriers.

“This is the last major piece needed to fully rationalize the industry, enabling airlines to not only be intentionally competitive but also sustainably profitable,” Parker said.

The direct effect on fliers at Atlanta and Minneapolis-St. Paul will be muted. Neither American nor US Airways has a big presence in Atlanta — together accounting for just over 3 percent of the traffic.

In the Twin Cities market, American and USAir account for nearly 7 percent of passenger travel, according to the Metropolitan Airports Commission. Delta, meanwhile, controls about 80 percent.

Doug Anderson, CEO of Carlson Wagonlit Travel, said the impact of the American-USAir combination will not be profound for MSP.

“I don’t think there will be a big impact in the Minneapolis market,” Anderson said. “The world needs strong air carriers and it’s still a good competitive market.”

In Atlanta, Delta remains dominant with more than three-quarters of the market, followed by AirTran Airways, which with merger partner Southwest carries 15 percent of the passengers.

Star Tribune staff writer David Phelps contributed to this article.

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