The Continuing Curse of US Airways
Its stock had risen 163%, for the best performance among the Fortune 500. CEO Doug Parker was the new face of the airline industry, credited with engineering a brilliant merger strategy, enlisting the help of labor unions to enable a combination with American (AAMRQ). In fact, the entire airline industry was being viewed, finally, as an investment-worthy industry, largely as a result of Parker's efforts.
But the top of the world has never, for US Airways, been a good place to be. Always something has interfered with the smallish airline's climb to success. "Curse'" is not too strong a word to describe the syndrome it has always seemed to face.
In a stunning announcement Tuesday, the Justice Department said it would oppose the merger -- US Airways has been seeking a merger for 15 years -- just when the deal seemed all but done.Over the past four years, the very same Justice Department has allowed mergers between Delta (DAL) and Northwest, between United (UAL) and Continental, between Southwest (LUV) and AirTran. US Airways and American had every reason to expect similar treatment --- every reason except for US Airways' tortured history. Oddly, another irrational event touched the carrier one month earlier. On July 18, Jerry Orr, longtime director of Charlotte Douglas International Airport, was fired despite being revered as either the best or one of the best U.S. airport directors. At least, that is what executives from JetBlue (JBLU), Southwest as well as US Airways have called him. As much as anyone else, Orr has enabled US Airways' buildup through efficient management of its largest hub. Unfortunately, Orr become embroiled in a conflict between Charlotte, run by Democrats, and the state legislature, run by Republicans, over which should run the airport. Orr got sucked into North Carolina's ugly politics, despite decades of keeping a wall between politics and the airport he built, over three decades, into deregulation's biggest winner. Now, at 72, he awaits a court ruling that will determine whether he can return to his job. A few years earlier, irrationality tarnished the 2005 merger between America West and US Airways. There, Parker and his management team combined two struggling airlines, one in bankruptcy and one close to it, into a big success story.
Select the service that is right for you!COMPARE ALL SERVICES
Jim Cramer and Stephanie Link actively manage a real portfolio and reveal their money management tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.
- $2.5+ million portfolio
- Large-cap and dividend focus
- Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
- Weekly roundups
Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.
- Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
- Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
- A custom stock screener
- Upgrade/downgrade alerts
Jim Cramer's protege, David Peltier, identifies the best of breed dividend stocks that will pay a reliable AND significant income stream.
- Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
- Alerts when market news affect the portfolio
- Bi-weekly updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
All of Real Money, plus 15 more of Wall Street's sharpest minds delivering actionable trading ideas, a comprehensive look at the market, and fundamental and technical analysis.
- Real Money + Doug Kass + 15 more Wall Street Pros
- Intraday commentary & news
- Ultra-actionable trading ideas
Our options trading pros provide daily market commentary and over 100 monthly option trading ideas and strategies to help you become a well-seasoned trader.
- 100+ monthly options trading ideas
- Actionable options commentary & news
- Real-time trading community
- Options TV