FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – American Airlines has stated for weeks it would only consider a merger after it emerges from bankruptcy.  But late Friday,  American says it would move up its timetable.

The winds are shifting at American Airlines.  For the first time, the airline says it has agreed to work with its unsecured creditors committee to consider a potential merger while it’s still in bankruptcy.

US Airways welcomed the news.  In a statement emailed to CBS 11, they said they look forward to ongoing talks:

“We are very pleased that the AMR management team and Board of Directors have committed to a process to explore consolidation scenarios that will enhance value for its stakeholders. The Unsecured Creditors Committee should be recognized for its efforts and we look forward to working with the Committee in the process going forward. As previously stated, US Airways has concluded that a combination is in the best interests of employees, customers and the communities of both companies, as well as AMR’s creditors and US Airways’ investors.  We look forward to engaging in the AMR process to demonstrate the significant advantages of our plan to maximize value for all constituents.”

But in a press release Friday evening, American insisted “…This agreement does not in any way suggest that a transaction of any kind or with any particular party will be pursued…”


Dallas attorney Randy Ray says Friday’s move is very significant.  “So, it does signify something.  But, it may be that American showing they want to get a little more control of the process.”

US Airways wants to takeover American, and won the backing of American’s three main unions after agreeing that if there’s a takeover of American, there would be fewer layoffs and higher wages and benefits.

Earlier Friday, hundreds of American’s unionized employees marched to the carrier’s Fort Worth headquarters.

They delivered 20-thousand petitions stating they had no confidence in American’s business plan or its leadership.

Meanwhile, American showed-off a Boeing 787 Dreamliner Friday that it will add to its fleet in late 2014.  In a ceremony welcoming the plane before hundreds of employees at DFW Airport, CEO Tom Horton made no mention of the airline’s new stance on a potential merger.

“Make no mistake. Our competitors are taking notice. No one in the industry wants to compete with the new American,” he told the crowd during the presentation.

Bloomberg News is quoting sources saying the process of studying a potential merger would begin as early as this summer.

On Monday, the shift focuses on bankruptcy court in New York.  That’s when the unions will make their case for a merger with US Airways.