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A private investor group is reportedly gearing up to bid nearly $1 billion for

Trans World Airlines


, the carrier that planned to regain its financial health by

selling out to

American Airlines

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Published reports tonight indicated that the investor group has plans to keep TWA as an independent airline.

In January, American, a unit of



, agreed to acquire TWA for $500 million, a move that would further the consolidation coursing through the airline industry. As part of the deal, TWA filed for protection under Chapter 11 of the bankruptcy code, marking the third time the carrier has sought relief from creditors.

American said it would provide TWA with $200 million in financing to ensure the carrier's ability to maintain its operations through the completion of the transaction. American said earlier this month that it expected a quick regulatory review of the proposed acquisition.