By Jeff Ray

FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – The American Airlines merger with US Airways — announced on Thursday morning — creates an airline that will move more people through the skies than any other airline in the world. The new American Airlines will have more planes, routes and hubs for passengers to choose from when making travel plans.

But bigger can also mean fewer, and fewer might mean more. With only four airlines competing over most domestic flights, it could translate into an increase in airfares. Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, Southwest Airlines and now American Airlines have all gone through a major merger in the last five years.

According to trade magazine Airline Weekly, the four mega-size carriers control 87 percent of the U.S. airline industry’s capacity. And traditionally, it has been cutthroat competition that dropped airfares.

But most passengers are hoping that better connections translates into easier travel.

Chris Bufkin was coming through DFW International Airport from Indianapolis on Thursday morning, changing planes to reach Orlando. He hopes that the merger creates a direct flight. “Hopefully it’ll create some efficiencies that will help the airlines get a little more efficient, things are more on time,” hes said. “They get some things together, I guess.”

The merger means that American Airlines will increase its presence in New York’s LaGuardia Airport and Washington’s Reagan Airport, and get the US Airways hubs in Charlotte, Philadelphia and Phoenix. According to a Thursday morning news release, the two airlines will not stop service to any of these hubs or reduce the number of flights currently operating.

As a passenger, the differences will not be noticeable for a few years. It will take time for the airlines to fully integrate their hubs and services. But a union of the two frequent flier programs should happen within a few months.

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