TheDeal: US Airways Shareholders Approve Merger

NEW YORK ( The Deal) -- Shareholders of US Airways Group ( LCC), on Friday, July 12, approved the airline's planned merger with the parent of American Airlines ( AAMRQ.PK), keeping the deal on track to close in the coming months.

Tempe, Ariz.-based US Airways in February announced plans to combine with AMR ( AMR) upon AMR's emergence from Chapter 11 protection. The deal, which calls for the combined company to keep the American name and AMR's Fort Worth, Texas, headquarters, would create the world's largest airline.

Terms of the deal call for owners of US Airways to receive about 28% of the equity in the combined company, with the remainder going to creditors, workers and shareholders of AMR.

US Airways CEO Doug Parker will be chief executive of the combined company, with current AMR CEO Tom Horton becoming nonexecutive chairman.

The deal is the fourth in a wave of airline consolidation that would leave the country with four large domestic carriers. Delta Air Lines ( DAL) bought Northwest Airlines ( NWA) in 2008, followed by UAL's ( UAL) purchase of Continental Airlines ( CAL) and Southwest Airlines' ( LUV) deal for AirTran Holdings ( AAI) two years later.

The deal is still subject to regulatory approval and final confirmation of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York.

US Airways officials said Friday they expect to complete the deal before the end of the third quarter. However, some in the industry have questioned whether the U.S. regulatory review will be completed on time, with regulators paying particular attention to the combination's large share of landing rights at Washington's Reagan National Airport.

During US Airways annual meeting Friday, Parker warned that if the combined company is forced to divest slots in Washington, it would likely force the airline to cut nonstop service to small communities.

-- Written by Lou Whiteman

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