The AA/US Merger Is Finalized!

So if you’ve been a frequent flyer of either American or US Airways, you probably just got notice that the merger between the two giants, making the largest airline in the world.  But it’s only done on paper; there are going to be years before anything really substantial happens.

The letter emailed out today says that the biggest change will be that US Airways will join oneworld Alliance on March 31st, 2014.  I knew that was going to be the case, but it’s still good to see it in writing.  Otherwise you’d have two of the three largest US airlines in the Star Alliance network – which wouldn’t be good.  And finally we’re going to see a beefed up answer to Skyteam and Star Alliance with the newly formed AA/US merger and oneworld Alliance.  Other than that, there shouldn’t be too many visible differences for a couple of years.  It took a couple of years for TWA to be fully absorbed by American, so I foresee the same thing happening with US Airways and American.

And now the real speculation begins.

So there’s always been scuttlebutt about the fate of Phoenix.  I think that, like Northwest’s Memphis hub, it will slowly become a focus city, with more flights funneled through DFW.  Whenever I’ve talked to people who work for America West (because AW/US still haven’t integrated crews, etc, even after all these years), they’ve acknowledged that the Phoenix hub doesn’t make a lot of money.  So honestly, I think there will be lesser emphasis on Phoenix, and more on DFW.  That means good things for carriers like Alaska and Southwest, both of which have expanded in the Phoenix market.

Speaking of Alaska Airlines, I’m wondering how this is going to affect them,  especially with the way they are maintaining their ‘frenemy’ relationship with Delta.  Delta is taking aim at Alaska, expanding in their primary Portland and Seattle markets, with Alaska taking aim at Salt Lake City.  Right now in markets where Alaska has a smaller presence, they contract with Delta to do a lot of their groundwork (checkin, luggage handling, boarding, etc.).  But say this merger with American and US Airways goes well, and Alaska – hedging their bets – keeps strategic partners with both Delta and the new American?  Maybe Alaska will move gates in Dallas /Ft. Worth and Atlanta and have American do the work that Delta is doing now?  And with the big expansion in SLC, I can foresee Alaska hiring their own employees in Utah instead of outsourcing to Delta; they’re going from 4 flights a day (2 incoming, 2 outgoing) all the way up to 18 flights a day (9 incoming, 9 outgoing) starting in June 2014.  With that much time to prepare, and with flights coming & going from 7am to 10:45pm, I bet those will be AS employees, and not DL.

Finally, are we done with merger mania?  Or is there any more consolidation to come?  The only thing I could possibly see myself is Alaska taking over Hawaiian – and making a commanding lead in Hawaiian flights (retiring the Hawaiian brand state-side and operating only Alaska 737s between the mainland & Hawaii), while letting a Hawaiian Air subsidiary concentrate on flights between Asia and Hawaii.  And we’ve still yet to find out the fate of beleaguered Frontier Airlines; have they been sold yet?  And what about once-darling jetBlue?  They’d better compliment a carrier like Alaska, but if jetBlue and Frontier somehow combined, that might let Frontier bow out of the super-dominated Denver market and focus more on less hub & spoke, giving jetBlue a better route network.  Or maybe even jetBlue marrying Virgin; might make getting Virgin out of the red a little easier.

So here’s to US Airways and American, and hoping the merger gets off on the right foot.  And I’m raising my glass to all the other speculators out there as well, who probably have their own ideas about what to expect next in the wild & crazy world of commercial passenger aviation.

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Scuttlebutt on the AA/US merger – Thoughts?

So it should be no secret to those that follow me on here or on Twitter that I primarily fly Alaska Airlines.  I’ve been curious about the announced American/US Airways merger since day one – mostly because American is a partner with Alaska Airlines.  Not as strong a partner as Delta, but still – a partner.

As I was traveling on the new AS route PDX->ATL yesterday, I was talking to some folks on my flight, and the merger came up.  Specifically, there was scuttlebutt that, if the AA/US merger goes through, the new AA would drop the partnership with Alaska.  I’m wondering if this is true or not.

I couldn’t see Alaska dropping the newly merged AA, because it opens so many doors for them.  Hell, if they did, there’d be virtually no reason to fly from SEA or PDX to DFW, because there wouldn’t be any more continuing tickets (AS to DFW, AA or AE DFW to final destination).

This has me thinking…  So what do you think?  Think the merger will go through, and if so, do you think they’ll stay partners with AS?  Or do you think new AA management will force AS to drop the contract?

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Wondering about AS fallout from the US/AA merger

It’s no secret that I’m personally a big supporter of Alaska Airlines.  Part of that is because they choose to not be part of an alliance, but instead work with a multitude of partners.  Their partnership with Emirates Airlines seems to be paying off; in recent weeks, I’ve seen a number of people flying with Emirates luggage tags.  I know that’s not scientific, but I hadn’t seen these luggage tags outside of the Middle East until now.

Everyone knows about US Airways taking over American Airlines.  But what’s not known is what’s going to happen with the Alaska/American tie-up.  Yes, the new AA/US is going to be part of oneworld (and isn’t US Airways supposed to drop Star Alliance any day now?), and the new AA will have hubs in Phoenix, Dallas/Ft. Worth, Charlotte, and Chicago.  But how is it going to effect Alaska Airline’s relationship with the “new” American?  I, for one, am curious.

And speaking of Alaska partners, they’ve severed their ties to Kenmore Air as of 4/1/2013, and will be severing their ties with Iceland Air on 6/1/2013 – and they say to consider one of their other partners, including American.  So there’s that (though it may not hold water – we’ll see).

I, for one, was actually wanting to fly to Reykjavik one of these days.  Guess it won’t be on Iceland, if I’m cashing in Alaska miles…

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Scoop, or Bad Writing?

Okay, so we all know that American Airlines is looking to merge with another carrier – possibly – if the deal is right, and American comes out on top.  Immediately the pundits, including me, started talking about the possibilities.

But I’m startled by something.  There’s one source that I’ve found (after an admittedly short search) that says American is looking to specifically merge with Frontier, buying them off of Republic.  But does the article really say that?  Or is it just bad writing or conjecture on the part of the author?  You decide – and then you can tell me ’cause I have no freaking idea.

Most of the regular articles read like this one, and though they single out Frontier in the title, it’s clear that every one of the six carriers (though I highly doubt Virgin America – way too young, and not enough of a route-map to make a huge difference) is in consideration.  But read this one.  Notice the focus specifically on Frontier?  It’s odd to say the least.  At least further on, they do seem to muddy the waters and mention other carriers, but still.  It’s an odd duck.

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What is United getting out of the Continental merger?

In a word: EVERYTHING

When you hunt around chatrooms and talk to people who fly regularly, there is not a lot of good that is often said about many of the major airlines (United, American, etc).  The thing is, though, Continental always bucked that trend.  They always ended up on the good side of the customer loyalty and comment section of airline surveys.

United?  They were always in the toilet.  They deserved it, though.  My flight on Horizon got canceled due to mechanical once, and since I’ve got status with Alaska/Horizon, they put me on a United flight, with a connection in San Francisco.  I got to my gate and proceeded to listen to the gate agent bad-mouth United passengers for 10 minutes — LOUDLY — before boarding said passengers.  And it’s not like she did it behind a curtain or anything.  She was standing AT the service desk, talking to other United people.

Yes, there are travelers that like United, I’ll give you that.  But they were the exception, not the rule.

Now it’s coming out that United is going to merge with Continental.  Honestly, it’s not a huge surprise.  Continental, United, and US Airways made up “Star Alliance”, once Continental bolted from Delta’s Skyteam (which the writing was on the wall when Delta and Northwest both went into bankruptcy the SAME day).  Continental bolstered Star Alliance.  Now with the merger, two big facts have come out.  Yes, the United name is staying.  BUT:

  1. The CEO of Continental, NOT United is going to run the combined airline
  2. The new livery for the airline, which does include the word “United”, is the old Continental livery (you can see it here).

This is going to allow United to turn itself around, both inside and out.  The old visual feel of United is going away, and the old way of thinking of United is going away.  So in a word, this is the surrendering of United, and a takeover by Continental — just not in name.

A couple of years ago, I predicted United would file for bankruptcy one more time, and then fade away.  Only half of that prediction is coming true.  With the loss of the leadership and the livery, United will be a thing of the past.  And you know what?  That may be a good thing for the airline industry.

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