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The Continuing Curse of US Airways

Stocks in this article: LLC AAMRQ DAL UAL LUV JBLU

Given DOJ's opposition to the United merger and now to the American merger, it seems clear that the agency would also have opposed the Delta merger -- especially given that it was the only one that actually appeared to be anti-competitive. In recent years, no airline besides US Airways has ever faced opposition or likely opposition on every merger it attempted, despite the obvious fact that its size makes it the airline most in need of a merger. It is simply too small to compete indefinitely with larger airlines extracting higher revenue from better-positioned hubs.

Nevertheless, this is neither the worst period in US Airways history nor the only time the airline has appeared to have suffered from the ill will of some higher power.

Between 1989 and 1994, US Air suffered five fatal crashes. That was the worst time in the carrier's history, a time its spirit flickered. "We were sickened by the loss of life and we were fearful for the outcome for our company," an employee later told me in an interview conducted for the book, "American Plus US Airways: Building the World's Biggest Airline" -- still expected to be published in 2014.

"At the time, having a crash was a sign of doom for the organization, "the employee, who asked not to be named at this time, said. "You were considered to be unsafe and maybe people wouldn't want to fly you. And you kept asking 'Why is this happening?'"

The same question may be asked today. But it is important to remember that US Airways came through that horrible time. By comparison, an irrational DOJ seems a small problem.

-- Written by Ted Reed in Charlotte, N.C.

>To contact the writer of this article, click here: Ted Reed

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