American begins merger evaluations

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American Airlines has begun to evaluate potential merger options, it says in a letter to employees from chief executive Tom Horton.

The Fort Worth, Texas-based carrier's management team, board of directors and creditors committee held their first preliminary meeting on 10 July, Horton says. The airline views itself as the acquirer in a potential merger.

US Airways has been actively pursuing American as it restructures under chapter 11 bankruptcy protection while Delta Air Lines confirmed that it was evaluating a potential combination with the carrier earlier this year.

A merger may not occur before the airline exits bankruptcy. "As we embarked on the restructuring journey, I have held the view that it is best that we first put our own house in order before considering a complex and challenging airline acquisition," says Horton.

The Association of Professional Flight Attendants welcomes the announcement and reiterates its opinion that a merger with US Airways is the best option for the carrier in a statement.

Captain Dave Bates, president of the Allied Pilots Association, says the step is a "milestone" and that the union continues to see consolidation as "essential" for American.