US Airways would have probably kept American Airlines' former livery for the merged carrier had the Fort Worth-based airline not announced a new paint scheme, says chief executive Doug Parker.
American announced its "soaring spirit" livery to a mixed reaction in January, after more than four decades of flying with the iconic polished aluminium scheme designed by Massimo Vignelli.
"The only reason this is an issue now is because they just did it right in the middle [of merger negotiations], which kind of makes it confusing," says Parker, in the transcript of a discussion with US Airways flight attendants that was filed with the stock exchange on 25 March.
"Had we done the merger a year ago, before they started painting airplanes, I think we probably would have said, let's just go make them all look like the existing American fleet," he says. "Maybe we would have thought about doing something combined, but probably not."
Parker says that a decision on the livery will not be made until after the deal closes, which is expected in the third quarter.
American and US Airways announced that they would merger under the former's name on 14 February. Parker will be chief executive of the new company while American's chairman and chief executive Tom Horton will be chairman.
"[This] gives us an opportunity, actually, to decide if we are going to do something different because we have so many airplanes to paint," says Parker.
American anticipates having more than 75 aircraft in the new livery by the end of the year.