CEOs of American Airlines parent and US Airways talk about merger options

DALLAS — The CEOs of American Airlines’ parent, AMR Corp., and US Airways met over breakfast Thursday to talk about potential merger scenarios.

 

AMR’s Thomas Horton told US Airways’ Doug Park­er that he won’t be rushed into any deals and will methodically compare all offers against AMR’s plan for remaining independent, said someone familiar with the discussion. The source spoke on condition of anonymity because details of the meeting haven’t been made public.

US Airways Group Inc. said it hoped the meeting was the start of a process in which it can show the benefits of a merger between the two airlines.

US Airways Express offers daily service from Au­gusta Regional Airport to Charlotte, N.C., and Washington.

Parker has conducted an unusually public campaign for a merger that would presumably result in a new company led by US Airways’ management, although he has vowed to keep the American name and headquarters in Fort Worth, Texas.

He won the support of American’s labor unions, which signed conditional labor contracts that would take effect if there is a merger. Many Wall Street analysts think American’s best hope to grow and compete with bigger rivals United and Delta is through a merger.

Horton said for months that he wanted AMR to emerge from bankruptcy protection as a profitable and growing company before considering a merger, but Parker’s maneuvering might have changed that timetable.

AMR filed for bankruptcy protection in November. Horton is pursuing a plan to cut annual spending by $2 billion, with more than half coming from labor, and boost annual revenue by $1 billion.

“Tom and I are friends, have been friends for a long time,” Parker said. “Hopefully, when this is over we will remain friends.”

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