Monday’s merger of American Airlines with U.S. Airways, the Nation’s No. 3 and No. 5 carriers respectively, means the new 100,000-employee American, has literally, overnight, become the world’s largest airline company.
For now, the new American will still operate as two distinct companies as the integration of U.S. Air with American will take nearly a year to complete. If successful, the full merger will have taken less time than other recent mergers. The combined American now offers nearly 6,500 daily flights to more than 330 destinations in more than 50 countries. This merger marks a new beginning for American, as they previously filed for bankruptcy in 2011.
Although technically a “merger” of two equals, the new American more closely resembles U.S. Airways. At the helm of the new company is U.S. Airway’s CEO, Doug Parker. The new airline’s headquarters will stay adjacent to the Dallas Fort Worth airport. Yet, even as former U.S. Airways executives arrived in Texas, many American executives were on their way out the door.
Not to be outdone this week, Mother Nature produced the year’s largest storm, snarling traffic and with it, forcing the cancellation of thousands of airline flights from Dallas to New York. While the new American Airlines wished to make a statement, the merger was largely lost amid the mounting frustration over the mass number of cancelled flights. Frustrated customers took to social media to commiserate as average hold times, which at times, ranged between two and five hours throughout the weekend.
Overall, the storm caused more than 6,100 flights to be cancelled. Of that amount, American and American Eagle accounted for nearly 2,800. DFW Airport, among the Nation’s busiest hubs, saw 942 flights cancelled Saturday. Although the airport suggested it possessed the latest snow and de-ice equipment, passengers aboard a Lufthansa flight bound for Frankfort unhappily returned to the gate after a more than three hour wait on the tarmac for de-ice equipment after it became obvious the one truck would be unable to de-ice the wide-body airliner.
Lets all hope yesterday’s turbulent beginning turns to clearer skies in the very near future.
Brigham A. McCown is an attorney and public policy expert. With nearly three decades of combined public service, Mr. McCown formerly served as a key federal regulator over the energy and transportation industries. He is also a retired Naval Aviator and an avid baseball fan who calls it as he sees it, right down the middle. To learn more, visit him on Forbes and on National Journal, or follow him on Twitter and Facebook.