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What Would Post-Merger American Airlines Look Like?

FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – A merger between US Airways and American Airlines may end up giving you more space to breathe on your flights, but you’ll probably have to pay for it. Travel experts Friday said American’s future could affect everything from fares to flight routes, depending on the final outcome.

Hub cities would likely be one of the first big changes, said Rick Seany, CEO of farecompare.com. American has used DFW as a hub since 1981, along with Chicago, New York and Miami. US Airways flies out of Charlotte, Philadelphia and Phoenix, with a heavy focus on Washington DC. Philadelphia may be a candidate for removal because of its proximity to New York Seany said. The additional hubs could strengthen the position on both coasts for the new airline. US Airways also said it wants to keep American headquartered in Fort Worth.

“They want to merge these two companies together and base it right here and do a great job not just here in Texas but worldwide where our passengers would benefit more than they do today,” said Howie Schack from the Allied Pilots Association.

One likely consequence most experts agree on is higher fares, due to less competition.  “When this thing finishes, no matter how it finishes, you’re going to see fewer flights, fewer routes and prices will go up,” said airline analyst Denny Kelley. “That’s what the traveling public can expect.”

Those higher fares though could mean more room on flights. Airlines have shown a willingness to fly planes less than full, when they are making more on each ticket.

Tom Parsons from bestfares.com said passengers may end up being better off if American is able to come out of bankruptcy on its own. It is expecting to update its fleet with more fuel efficient planes. It’s labor costs will likely be lower if a judge voids union contracts.

“Southwest has got to be worried too,” Parsons said. “Because I really believe at the end of the day, when they come out of bankruptcy, they’re going to actually have a lower cost that Southwest.”

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