WASHINGTON (AP) — The Justice Department says it has reached an agreement to allow American Airlines and US Airways to merge, creating the world’s biggest airline.
The agreement requires the airlines to scale back the size of the merger at Washington’s Reagan National Airport and in other big cities.
In August, the government sued to block the merger, saying it would restrict competition and drive up prices for consumers on hundreds of routes around the country.
The airlines have said their deal would increase competition by creating another big competitor to United Airlines and Delta Air Lines, which grew through recent mergers.
When the deal does close, here’s what passengers can expect:
AIRFARE: During the past five years, the airline industry has seen the combinations of Delta with Northwest, United with Continental and Southwest Airlines Co. with AirTran. The price of a domestic round-trip flight has climbed more than 15 percent since 2009, when adjusted for inflation, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics.
The merger will give a combined American and US Airways Group Inc. the ability to increase fares. United, Delta and Southwest would be likely to follow. Although it could also pave the way for further expansion by discount airlines such as Spirit Airlines Inc. and Allegiant Travel Co.
FREQUENT FLIER MILES: Your miles will be safe. After the merger closes, the two airlines will likely combine the miles into one program and elite status from one airline will likely be honored on the other. That puts the occasional traveler closer to rewards.
The merged carrier will continue American’s participation in the OneWorld alliance, which was founded by American, British Airways, Cathay Pacific and Qantas.US Airways will leave the Star Alliance, which includes rival United Airlines, Lufthansa, Air Canada and 24 other airlines. Alliances allow passengers to earn and redeem miles on partner airlines.
DESTINATIONS: There is little overlap between the two airlines’ existing routes. The combined carrier will offer more than 6,700 daily flights to 336 destinations in 56 countries, making it more attractive to companies seeking to fly employees around the globe with few connections.
US Airways passengers will gain access to American’s international destinations, particularly London and Latin America. American’s passengers will be able to better connect to smaller U.S. cities that US Airways serves. The combined carrier will have considerable presence in New York, Philadelphia, Washington, Charlotte, N.C., Miami, Chicago, Dallas, Phoenix and Los Angeles.