IATA: US-American merger on track for Q3 close

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American Airlines and US Airways are still on track to close their merger in the third quarter, and expect to announce their new management team in the next two to three weeks.

Ongoing talks with the US Department of Justice, which must approve the merger, are "going well", says American chairman and chief executive Tom Horton.

"We still anticipate closing the merger some time in the third quarter," he adds. A hearing for the approval of American's reorganisation plan is scheduled for 15 August, and Horton says the DOJ's approval should follow shortly. "I think it should not be long after that," he says.

American and US Airways unveiled their intentions to merge on 14 February in an $11 billion deal, creating a combined airline that will carry more than 170 million passengers and generate revenues of more than $38.7 billion a year. The merged carrier will retain the American name and will be based in Fort Worth, Texas.

Horton will be the chairman of the new American, while US Airways chief executive Doug Parker will be chief executive.

Horton expects to unveil the combined airline's management team in the next two to three weeks, or by mid-June.

"We will have the senior officers announced initially, and some period after that, the vice presidents," says Horton.

The combined airline's ownership of slots at Ronald Reagan Washington National airport could be an issue that the DOJ will weigh while deliberating over approving the merger. Other US airlines, in particular JetBlue Airways, are pushing for US-American to give up slots at the slot-controlled airport.

However, Horton does not foresee that US-American would have to divest slots at the airport. "We don't think there's any rationale for divestitures," he says, adding that the airport is a "very robust and competitive marketplace". "We don't think that is something that should be required, it's up to the DOJ but we don't think there's any reason."