US Airways, American Merger Picks Up Steam

The Las Vegas book hasn't posted anything yet, but that other great gambling mecca—Wall Street—gives the potential American–US Airways merger around a 75 percent shot. The folks at US Airways may be only average at running an airline, but they sure know how to run an airline takeover. So far, they've totally outplayed American's team. here's how:

  • They've lined up pre-approval support from American's main unions, which have clearly decided that anything is better than American's current plans.
  • They've lined up most of the money guys, the ones who really run these sorts of shows.
  • They're promising major creditors a better deal than American.
  • Even the president of competitor United said he thought it was a good deal—and he's probably right, given that the merger will likely make it easier for all the big guys to raise fares.

Is it a done deal, then? Not quite. A few hurdles remain:

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  • The biggest potential barrier is the government, which has yet to weigh in on the antitrust and anticompetitive aspects of the deal.
  • American's management is still resisting the merger, and they have some weapons left they can use to fight.
  • A few consumer groups have voiced worries. (But you all know how much clout consumer actually wield.)

The result for now: The merger is not a sure thing, but it has really great odds.

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