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‘World’s Biggest Airline’ Cleared For Merger Takeoff

The US Airways-American mega-merger to become the world’s biggest airline is cleared for takeoff. We’ll look at what this means for prices, travel and our life in the skies.

In this Feb. 14, 2013 file photo, U.S. Airways CEO Doug Parker, right, and American Airlines CEO Tom Horton pose after a news conference at DFW International Airport Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013, in Grapevine, Texas. It wasn’t an easy fight, but by the end of this year the 51-year-old Parker will be at the helm of a combined American and US Airways, the world’s largest airline. The two companies reached a settlement this month with the U.S. Department of Justice that would allow the merger to move forward. (AP)

In this Feb. 14, 2013 file photo, U.S. Airways CEO Doug Parker, right, and American Airlines CEO Tom Horton pose after a news conference at DFW International Airport Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013, in Grapevine, Texas. It wasn’t an easy fight, but by the end of this year the 51-year-old Parker will be at the helm of a combined American and US Airways, the world’s largest airline. The two companies reached a settlement this month with the U.S. Department of Justice that would allow the merger to move forward. (AP)

In August, when Attorney General Eric Holder brought suit to block the mega-merger of American Airlines and US Airways, here’s what he had to say:  the giant merger would bring the American flying public “higher airfares, higher fees and fewer choices.”  The Justice Department noted ominously that the merger would give just four airlines control of 80 percent of domestic air service.  Bad news, they said.  And then?  Last week, the D.O.J. approved the deal.  American will be the biggest air carrier in the world.  This hour On Point:  what the mega-merger in the skies means for you.

– Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Ben Mutzabaugh, USA Today aviation editor and editor of the “Today in the Sky” blog. (@TodayInTheSky)

Christopher Sagers, anti-trust professor at the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law.

Nicholas Kralev, host of “Conversations with Nicholas Kralev.” Author of “America’s Other Army” and “Decoding Air Travel.” (@NicholasKralev)

Jon Ostrower aerospace & Boeing beat reporter for The Wall Street Journal. (@jonostrower)

From Tom’s Reading List

USA Today: Merger: What’s next for AA, US Airways customers? — “Neither American nor US Airways frequent-flier members are at risk of losing their miles. Eventually, the carriers’ AAdvantage and Dividend Miles program will be combined into a single program. Customers who have miles with each airline are expected to simply have their miles combined, though the timeline for that was uncertain as of Nov. 12. But US Airways customers will soon see one significant change. The airline has been a member of the Star Alliance frequent-flier program, but the “new” American will stay with the oneworld alliance that American is already part of.”

Bloomberg Businessweek: Meet the Mega-Airline: Regulators Roll Over for American-US Airways Merger — “Both the government and the airlines are claiming victory, naturally, but it’s hard to see much the Justice Department lawyers managed to alter from the initial merger proposal. American and US Airways will need to sell access at two airports that cap flights with takeoff and landing slots—52 pairs at Reagan National near Washington and 17 at New York’s LaGuardia Airport—while also relinquishing gates to rivals at five other large airports. ”

Los Angeles Times: Long Beach Seeks Boeing 777X – “Once considered a long shot, Long Beach is one of several cities under active consideration by Boeing after the International Assn. of Machinists and Aerospace Workers voted down a tentative labor agreement by a 2-to-1 margin late Wednesday. Now Boeing, along with state and local officials, is in talks about the possibility of bringing the 777X program to Long Beach, where the company currently builds the C-17 Globemaster III cargo jet.”

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