American Airlines parent AMR Corp. (AAMRQ) and US Airways Group Inc. (LCC) said they plan to announce a new management structure by mid-month as they move toward a merger to create the world’s largest airline.
American Chief Executive Officer Tom Horton said that while he’s making recommendations, the final decision on appointments rests with his US Airways counterpart Doug Parker, who will lead the combined company under the American Airlines name.
Horton, 52, and Parker, speaking in an interview in Cape Town, confirmed that the merger remains on course to close in the third quarter. A second request for information already received from the U.S. Justice Department will probably be the last and no issues have emerged in the antitrust review process, said Parker, 51.
“We have fulfilled the request,” he said. “They still have work to do, but we don’t expect any issues. The networks are so complimentary with virtually no overlap.”
The merger will close as AMR emerges from bankruptcy. The carrier filed for Chapter 11 protection on Nov. 29, 2011, and the airlines announced a merger agreement on Feb. 14. The combined company will keep American’s Fort Worth, Texas, headquarters.
The pace of integration will vary according to the areas concerned, the CEOs said. The companies will begin code-sharing “very soon” after the merger, though it will be three to six months before US Airways transfers to AMR’s Oneworld airline alliance from the Star group to which it belongs now.
Combining reservation systems could take as long as a year, and it may be 18 months before the pair move to a single operating certificate, allowing them to function as one airline and share crew and planes.
American and Tempe, Arizona-based US Airways said at the time the merger was announced that they were committed to taking more than 400 planes on order, plus associated options. There may be room for modifying delivery dates in line with existing contracts, though that’s not currently planned, they said.
“If we go and do the work and say maybe we would like to accelerate some airplanes, maybe delay some airplanes, maybe change some aircraft types, those are conversations airlines have all the time,” Parker said. “There may be some of that, we don’t know.”
The executives spoke during the annual meeting of the International Air Transport Association, where Parker attended a gathering of Oneworld CEOs for the first time.
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