So AMR says it will explore merger opportunities as part of its bankruptcy process.
The choices of potential partners are odd, indeed. According to The Wall Street Journal, AMR’s choices for a potential combination with American Airlines are US Airways, JetBlue, Alaska Air Group, Republic Airways Holdings’s Frontier Airlines, and Virgin America.
The Wall Street Journal notes: Besides US Airways, none of the others has publicly expressed a desire to merge with American. JetBlue and Alaska Air have indicated they prefer to remain independent, and people familiar with closely held Virgin America also said the company isn’t interested. Asked about that, Mr. Horton said: “If somebody’s not interested, they’re not interested.”
The choices, aside from US Airways, are pretty goofy. None is a network carrier that would add a system to American. JetBlue and Alaska Airlines would certainly beef up the East and West coasts, respectively, where American is weak. JetBlue would add strength to American’s JFK international hub. But neither brings a network to the airline.
Frontier Airlines and Virgin America wouldn’t bring even the attributes offered by JetBlue and Alaska. Frontier’s Denver hub competes with United Airlines and Southwest Airlines. Does American really want to get into this fight? We think not.
Virgin America, which regularly posts huge losses, isn’t strong in San Francisco where it is based and neither is American. We don’t understand why this airline is even mentioned.
The only airline that makes sense for consideration among those mentioned is US Airways. US Airways has a network, strong East Coast presence, and a sharp management, which wants to be in control and this seems to be the biggest obstacle for the AMR/American management.
And it only makes sense for the US Airways management to be the surviving one.