American Airlines discusses US Airways merger

Merger would make company world's largest airline

MIAMI - Talks of a merger between American Airlines and US Airways continued Wednesday. A merger would make the company the world's largest airline.

The talks have been held behind closed doors for months.

American Airlines is in better financial shape now then when it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in Nov. 2011. Last month, American Airlines pilots' union ratified a new contract with the airline.

But pilots, flight attendants, and mechanics have publicly said they've lost confidence in American's management. All three unions have made salary and benefit concessions as American Airlines emerges from bankruptcy.

"American's management has been skeptical but they now seem to realize that there will very likely be a deal one way or the other, so they would rather be a part of that process rather than having it all happen on somebody else's terms," said Seth Kaplan with Aviation Weekly.

American Airlines employs about 9,000 people in Miami-Dade, making it the county's fourth largest private employer. About 300 American Airlines flights fly in and out of Miami International Airport per day, adding up to about 2 million passengers each month.

"The reality is though is American is one of the bigger carriers of our groups in the United States and we don't want to get down to where we've got an oligopoly where we've only got a couple of carriers left, and that's what'll happen if they didn't survive," said John Nance, an aviation analyst with ABC News.

US Airways has a smaller presence at MIA, where 71 of its employees work. It flies about 10 flights per day. At Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, US Airways has 176 employees and 21 daily departures.

"When companies merge, they're doing it partly to try to eliminate a little competition, and let's be honest, they're not doing that to try to lower fares for everybody, but if the government does approve this, one reason it would do that is because it would believe that it's not going to be all that bad for consumers," said Kaplan.

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