US Airways Group Inc. and AMR Corp.’s American Airlines are combining after playing separate roles in the U.S. industry’s first two big tie-ups of the 21st century.
The consolidation began in 2001 when AMR bought Trans World Airlines Inc. US Airways Chief Executive Officer Doug Parker, who pulled off a merger in 2005, said in 2011 he saw “one big deal left” after a hostile bid for Delta Air Lines Inc. collapsed in 2007 and two rounds of talks failed with former United Airlines parent UAL Corp.
Completing the merger between Tempe, Arizona-based US Airways and American will trim the number of U.S. carriers with overseas networks and full-service cabins to three from seven at the start of the last decade.
The following is a timeline of successful combinations among major U.S. carriers since 2000.
January 2001: AMR agrees to buy then-bankrupt TWA in a deal eventually valued at $2.8 billion. The purchase pushes Fort Worth, Texas-based American ahead of United as the world’s largest carrier. The transaction closed in April 2001.
May 2005: America West Holdings Corp., then led by Parker, agrees to merge with bankrupt US Airways using $1.57 billion from backers including planemaker Airbus SAS and hedge fund Par Capital Management Inc. The deal was completed in September 2005.
April 2008: Delta agrees to acquire Northwest Airlines Corp. in a stock swap eventually valued at $2.75 billion. The tie-up, which was completed in October 2008, makes Atlanta-based Delta the biggest carrier by traffic.
May 2010: United parent UAL and Continental Airlines Inc. agree to combine in an all-stock merger eventually valued at $3.47 billion. The deal puts together the third- and fourth-largest U.S. carriers by traffic, vaulting the new Chicago-based United Continental Holdings Inc. past Delta as the world’s biggest airline. The United brand survives. The transaction closed in October 2010.
September 2010: Southwest Airlines Co. agrees to buy AirTran Holdings Inc. in a cash-and-stock transaction eventually valued at $1 billion. The deal allows Dallas-based Southwest to add flights outside the U.S. for the first time and gives the low-cost carrier a hub in Atlanta, the world’s busiest airport. The transaction closed in May 2011.