Should the U.S. government approve the American Airlines – US Airways merger?

usairways4What if you could make the call on the proposed merger between American and US Airways?

It’s not a hypothetical question — at least not entirely.

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Before you answer, let’s take a look at where we are. This proposed airline merger, which has been called “inevitable” by most observers, will form America’s largest airline. Supporters say it’s a win-win, creating a stronger company with a superior route system that will better serve its customers.

But a recent Consumer Travel Alliance study shows that 761 connecting routes will lose competition if this merger goes through and concludes there are no new benefits for consumers, in terms of airline destinations. The Government Accountability Office has completed an airport-by-airport competitive analysis that will be released within the next few weeks, which is said to come to a similar conclusion.

The US Department of Justice — the agency with a final say-so in the merger — is wrestling with what to do about airline slots in Washington and New York, where the merger will alter the balance of competition. Soon, they’ll also have to give the corporate union their blessing.

Now it’s your turn.

What do you think of the merger? Should the government allow it or not? But beyond that, what are your specific reasons for either letting these two large airlines merge or blocking this corporate marriage?

Your comments matter more than you think. I’ll forward them to the DOJ, which is looking for real feedback from actual air travelers. In other words, what you say here could affect what the government does regarding this merger.

Or, more importantly, doesn’t do.

The poll’s open. You can leave your comments below or in the box.

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33 thoughts on “Should the U.S. government approve the American Airlines – US Airways merger?

  1. Yes they might as well merge ALL the US airlines and give it to an Asian airline to manage. Maybe to Cathay Pacific, JAL or ANA.

  2. The CTA needs to find another tree to bark up. Overlapping DIRECT routes getting reduced from two carriers to one is cause for concern, but if previous mergers of large airlines have been allowed, it’s kind of silly to object now to the merger of these two on the grounds of overlapping connecting routes. (Such objections would obviously be futile, since they never worked before.)

    In any case, if AA doesn’t merge, it’s probably going to have to liquidate, which would mean a LOT less competition on a LOT more routes. Not to mention all the jobs and non-overlapping service that would be lost. While the merger may not benefit consumers, AA liquidating certainly would be even worse.

      1. Our regular train service between Grand Central and New Haven (Metro North) is now disrupted. 2 trains collided near Bridgeport and destroyed the tracks.
        Now they have to bus folks at Bridgeport to Stamford so they continue their journey to NYC. Amtrak service from Boston to New York is suspended indefinitely.
        These are pseudo-government entities that run the show. Pretty pathetic if you ask me. It could be a change from bad to worst.

        1. I’m missing why two trains colliding – with the reason currently unknown – and the fact that the service is NOT suspended indefinitely but, according to the news, should be working again by Wednesday, is somehow, strangely, an issue that you feel means that there should be LESS regulation.

          Please explain. I wish to hear your thoughts and determine my reaction accordingly.

        2. That just stinks. And I have never been a fan of the way AmTrack is run. The way its a quazi government entity has always baffled me. In fact, the whole commercial train infrastructure in our country is screwed up and even when congress tried to required certain upgrades, the corporations who own most of the infrastructure found ways around it. Really interesting read:

          Airlines should be re-regulated, but they should have frequent travelers decide how they are regulated, not rich congress-people who always fly first class anyway.

          1. Probable cause – FRACTURED RAIL
            Yup, in one of the most traveled corridors in the USA: NYCBOS.
            There’s something really screwed up with America’s Infrastructure – I point at the government since they hold the purse strings. It is a matter of priorities – Baghdad and Kandahar over Bridgeport 🙂

            PS. it is interesting how the way the rail is funded between NY and CT.
            You will get a headache reading about it in Wiki.

          2. Yeah, I always argue with my uncle on those priorities. Why don’t we spend more money building our country? That always infuriates me, but he says its worth it to have strategic alliances. If the rails between NY and CT are anything like the other quasi government yet for profit entities I already have a headache just thinking about it. I am beginning to polarize and thing we should have either government control, or private only, none of this in between stuff. Also I think congress is pretty much useless now, they mostly answer to big business, not constitutes.

    1. It depends on what you mean by “re-regulated”.

      If you are simply looking at the volume of regulations that apply to a particular industry, airlines remain amongst the most heavily-regulated industries in the country, most of that having to do with flight safety. While regulations regarding things like baggage liability, fee disclosure, etc., are hardly crushing, they are there.

      If you are referring going back to the “Golden Age” of aviation, where flying was glamorous, the service superb, etc. I’m not sure you really want to go back to those days. During those days, air fares were so crazy-high that air travel was a true luxury enjoyed only by a select few; the idea that you could book a cross country round trip for $200 2013 USD would have been probably 35-40% (or more) higher (in 2013 USD.) Not to mention that air travel was much more dangerous then; if you look through older aviation accident reports, they are rife with incidents that if they happened today would get an airline torn to shreds for complete disregard towards passenger safety.

      FWIW, Wikipedia says that the cheapest R/T in ’74 from NYC to LAX was $1,442 (in 2010 USD.) That route is commonly (if not always) available for less than $300 today.

      I don’t know about you, but I’ll take my cheaper and safer transportation any day of the week.

      I’m not saying there aren’t some regulations I’d like to see added to the mix, such as a coherent way to compare fees between airlines, but rewinding the clock all the way to full airfare re-regulation isn’t the answer.

      1. If gasoline was less expensive I’d be taking road trips instead of flying. It’s also worth noting that the cheapest airfares don’t usually seem to apply to smaller airports like Knoxville or Bellingham, both of which have service from major airlines, albeit weirdly scheduled.

      2. Agreed. Airline travel may be miserable, but at least its affordable. For example, I remember in the late mid 70s, we paid $200 RT ($800 in todays money) to visit my relatives in North Carolina. Today that flight costs about $400, about half what it would cost under regulation.

      3. NYC to LAX is usually under $300? Don’t think so. I regularly fly from NYC/NJ/PHL airports to LAX and it is rarely under $300. I agree that cheaper and safer transportation should be the norm.

      4. When I first moved to DEN, we flew back to NYC 2 to 3 times a year, and it was typically $200 – 300 R/T when we flew on non-business heavy days. So assuming $200, it would be $435 in today dollars. When I fly back and forth today on the same route, its roughly $400 to $500 R/T. So my most common route, the price has not really gone down since de-regulation. So I am now paying the same price for less leg room, fuller planes, no meals, worse service, and direct TV that I have to pay for v. the free movies of yesteryear. Not to mention, when Mileage Plus first started, I got a free R/T flight after 4 R/Ts, now it takes 9. I say bring back regulation, even if it costs slightly more its worth it to have room and be feed. Of course, I am only looking at one data point, but hey, I can be selfish every one in a while 🙂

        1. 9/11 economics explains a lot. Immediately after 9/11 passenger load factors sunk to historic lows. Fares became cheap. It took a while before airlines could take away excess capacity to the level of demand. Demand slowly came back and now you have full airplanes. But the airlines are not gung-ho to increase capacity. So we will get squeezed for a long time unless some more competition appears on the horizon.

          1. Sadly, today’s competition is mostly in the form of LCCs who have cheaper fares, even less service, and they nickle and dime everything and cram you into 28″ pitch. And people seem to want that. I don’t understand this whole, I will do whatever I can to save $20 and then complain because it was horrible mentality. And now that I am not traveling, I see it with my co-workers. We all went to Philly and several of them did 2 or ever 3 connections, left at horrible times, etc. to save $10 to $20.

            Every one seems to advertise with cheaper flights, or free something-or-other, etc. but they make up for it with less amenities and less leg room and more add on fees. I wonder what would happen if someone advertised, “we cost more, but you get a meal, leg room, and no surprise fees”? Sadly, I think people will not fly them because they want cheap. I want cheep too, but I can’t take the cattle service anymore. I would rather save longer and fly less and have a better experience. I flew 102,000 miles last year all in coach, yuck. Glad I am off the road.

          2. “We cost more, you get a meal, leg room, and no surprise fees.”

            We have that already; it’s called business class.

          1. And that’s only if you deflate by overall inflation – if you were to do it as a % of average income, it’d be $969.

            In general, absent things like deregulation, services increase in price at a rate closer to the rise in average income than to overall inflation (this is offset by the fact that goods fall in price).

      5. I want regulations obligating airlines not to pack us in like cattle. Animals on their way to the slaughterhouse have to have more “turn around” space than people crammed into coach.

        1. My FA friend refers to me as self loading cargo. She is joking with me when she says this, but sadly its true.

          1. This month on UA, the safety video has a spiel by their CEO that starts “United carried cargo long before we carried passengers …” My completion of that sentence was “so that’s why we treat passengers like cargo today.”

        2. AA offered more standard legroom for a slightly higher price, and the market said no. (AA discontinued the “More Room in Coach” program, as they weren’t able to keep prices up to pay for it.)

          1. Exactly this. If people wanted to return to the days of good service in exchange for extremely expensive airfares, then they would fly with airlines and on fare deals where that was offered.

  3. Look into the Delta / Saudi working relationship that is going to occur next year. Jews and Israelis will be barred from the flights. The public really has very little to say about the airlines. I want to fly, I’m willing to pay, I’m willing to take abuse from TSA and the attendants, I might even get to my destination within 2 days. The passenger does in the end make their own choice.

    1. Saudi Arabian Airlines is joining SkyTeam, of which Delta is a member. Delta will continue not to fly to Saudi Arabia, and it will continue not to codeshare with SAA.

      [If Delta FFs book flights on SAA after it joins SkyTeam, then they’ll get FF points, and the same for SAA FFs on Delta]*

      Israeli citizens would be unwise to book flights on SAA, because they’ll (at best) be denied boarding or denied entry to Saudi Arabia. This is true now and it will be true afterwards.

      Seems like a bizarre thing to get upset about Delta with, given the number of legitimate reasons to get upset with Delta.

      *Actually, I’ve just checked, and because of the fuss, Delta has agreed with SkyTeam that despite both airlines being members, Delta and SAA will not reciprocate on FF points. So even though the protests were crazy and pointless, the airline has listened to the ignorant protesters nonetheless…

    2. This Delta/Saudi bit is completely and totally not true. (see for details.) Delta would face heavy fines if they were to even try such a thing…

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