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American, US Airways Merge To Become Largest Carrier. What Now?

American Airlines

The American Airlines-U.S. Airways merger is official. What can passengers expect from the combined carrier, which becomes the world’s largest?

We’ve been here before.  Prior to numerous airline bankruptcies and mergers in recent years, American was the world’s biggest airline. Now, before it’s out of bankruptcy, it becomes so again. That fact alone impresses flyer Kris Prasad, awaiting a flight at DFW Airport. 

“Bigger than United? That would be quite something.”

Prasad is headed home to New Jersey but says he often flies overseas.

What does he hope for out of the new, larger American Airlines?

“Good service and a large number of flights. That’s all.”

The merged American/U.S. Airways is expected to add new domestic and international destinations while keeping the American Airlines name.

“I think Dallas/Fort Worth ends up being the biggest winner here.”

Tom Parsons runs, that tracks domestic and international air fares and deals. He says American already serves north Texas well, with nearly 100 non-stop destinations. But now it’ll add un-served cities that U.S.Airways reaches.

“I’m not saying we’re going to get non-stop destinations out of this deal but we’ll probably get a lot more one-stop service,  either via Charlotte or through Washington National, or through Philadlphia, and it’ll spin us to cities like Birmingham, it could be Hilton Head, Georgia…”

The news pleases North Texan Peter Biocca. The American Airlines frequent flyer was catching a smoke outside Terminal C at DFW Airport. 

“It’ll open up the Eastern market for me. I usually fly other airlines there and now I’ll be able to fly American. For example going up to New York State, New Jersey, Carolinas, The US Air has very good coverage in the east.”

Parsons, of, says international business and leisure passengers will benefit too. They’ll now be able to fly American to U.S. Airways cities like Amsterdam and Venice without using a code-share partner. But he’s not sure what the merger will mean for frequent flyer users. He says the generous mileage plan at Continental changed when that airline merged with United. Parsons plans to follow changes with this merger.

“Do I think the program will be diminished? No. I mean that’s their bread and butter. If they start tweaking that system too hard, they’re going to see those passengers jump ship and go to another airline that’s a little more friendly with frequent flyer miles.

And competitors are out there nipping at American’s wings, like small, low-fare carriers Spirit and Frontier. Then next year, Dallas’ much larger Southwest Airlines starts competing here like never before, because  the Wright Amendment finally goes away.

Bill Zeeble has been a full-time reporter at KERA since 1992, covering everything from medicine to the Mavericks and education to environmental issues.