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The American Airlines / US Airways merger just passed another hurdle yesterday when bankruptcy judge Sean Lane approved the airlines’ recent settlement of an anti-trust lawsuit brought against them by the US Justice Department and several States Attorneys General and denied claims by a group of private plaintiffs to temporarily block the merger as well.
In his decision, Judge Lane said that the settlement satisfies bankruptcy requirements and the merger can proceed immediately, and dismissed the private plaintiffs’ claims since they depended largely on the DOJ’s already settled suit and did not convincingly show that the merger would cause them irreparable harm. There is still a public comment period that runs through February 7, after which a Washington judge in the antitrust case must also approve the terms of the proposed DOJ settlement. If you’d like to read Judge Lane’s statement, you can find it on the Dallas News’s Aviation Blog.
In the meantime, however, AMR, American’s parent corporation, said that it intends to complete the merger December 9 and rename the company American Airlines Group Inc.
The airlines plan to take the first tangible steps towards becoming a single airline January 7, 2014, when flyers are expected be able to earn and redeem miles on both American and US Airways (and elite status will likely start to be recognized on both) and sources at US Airways have said that the airline might exit Star Alliance as early as March 1, 2014, as it starts aligning more closely with American and possibly joins Oneworld as soon as April.
Whether that’s all rolled out on time is yet to be seen (though I don’t predict it to go that smoothly), and if everything sticks to schedule, we’ll probably start seeing the frequent flyer programs of both airlines beginning to merge, their award charts assimilated into a single chart, and elite tiers and benefits recalibrated, so stay tuned for further developments.
For more information on the merger, its progress and what you can expect, check out these posts: