In the News

Feds Pressure American Airlines to Save Pensions

By Ben Mutzabaugh, USA TODAY

If American Airlines parent AMR intends to shed its workers' pensions in bankruptcy court, it will likely get a fight from the government.

That's after the federal Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. (PBGC) on Tuesday filed $91 million in liens against American Airlines property, a move The Associated Press calls "a bid to pressure the company to save its retirement plans instead of dumping the obligations on the agency."

The PBGC says it had little choice but to file the liens after AA fell far short last week in making a required contribution toward its pension plans. American paid only $6.5 million of the nearly $100 million due, according to the AP.

AP says the PBGC's move "escalated a fight between American and the (PBGC), whose director accused the company of pocketing pension relief money instead of putting it into workers' retirements."


Delta Weighs a US Air Deal

From the Wall Street Journal - Technology

Delta Air Lines Inc. is studying US Airways Group Inc. as a possible acquisition target, people familiar with the matter said, as U.S. carriers prepare for a new round of consolidation.

Delta, the world's No. 2 airline by traffic, also has been assessing a similar move for American Airlines parent AMR Corp., the people have said.

Delta is studying possible deals with US Airways or American Airlines.

Delta is working with Goldman Sachs Group Inc. as one of its financial advisers, along with Blackstone Group, the people said.

Delta sees itself as a consolidator in the airline industry and is studying several options, the people added. AMR entered bankruptcy-court protection in late November.

Delta hasn't yet approached US Airways, the No. 5 U.S. airline, and is still weighing which deal if any would make most sense and have the best odds of success, the people familiar with the matter said. Delta's last transaction was in 2008, when it acquired Northwest Airlines.


US Airways, Flight Attendants Reach Tentative Deal

US Airways agrees to tentative deal with union to bring flight attendants under one contract

Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) -- US Airways Group Inc. says it has a tentative agreement with negotiators for the union representing 6,700 flight attendants across its main network.

The agreement, if approved, will bring the workers together for the first time since US Airways combined with America West in 2005. They've been working under separate contracts.

Details of the deal were not disclosed. The company and the thousands of in-flight crew had been negotiating with the help of a federal mediator.

The flight attendants are based in Phoenix, Philadelphia, Charlotte, N.C. and Washington D.C.

The Association of Flight Attendants Master Executive Counsel must approve the tentative agreement before it can be sent to its members for a vote. That's expected to happen in the next few weeks.

The tentative deal does not include US Airways Express flight attendants.

US Airways Confirms Exploration of Options Related to American Parent AMR

By Mary Schlangenstein

US Airways Group Inc. (LCC), the smallest full-service domestic carrier, confirmed it’s evaluating a possible merger with American Airlines parent AMR Corp (AAMRQ). in bankruptcy.

Millstein & Co., Barclays Plc and the law firm of Latham & Watkins LLP have been hired to help Tempe, Arizona-based US Airways evaluate AMR options, Chief Executive Officer Doug Parker told analysts and investors today on a conference call.

His comments marked the first acknowledgment of any AMR- related interest, after US Airways declined to respond last week when two people familiar with the matter said a potential merger was under study. With the industry shrinking in tie-ups in the past four years, further contraction is possible while “no longer imperative,” Parker said today.

“We can now decide whether it’s best to operate as a standalone or to participate in further consolidation over time, and that’s what we intend to do,” Parker said. US Airways is “always interested in studying potential value-enhancing opportunities.”


PSA Airlines Flight Attendants Say Talks at an Impasse

US Airways subsidiary workers want to strike

By Ely Portillo
The Charlotte Observe

Flight attendants at a US Airways subsidiary have asked federal labor mediators to declare negotiations at an impasse, edging a step closer to a strike.

"Attendants have sent a loud and clear message to management that action will be taken if a new, improved agreement is not reached," said L.C. Acor, vice president of the union representing flight attendants for PSA Airlines. The company operates US Airways Express flights.

"We are done playing games and are ready to do whatever it takes to get a contract," Acor said in a statement.

The sides are stuck on issues including compensation, retirement and insurance, the union said.


US Airways Said to Consider American Airlines Merger to Fill Revenue Gap

By Mary Schlangenstein

US Airways Group Inc. (LCC) is studying a potential merger with bankrupt AMR Corp. (AAMRQ) that would fix a weak domestic route system at American Airlines and boost revenue, two people familiar with the matter said.

President Scott Kirby is leading US Airways’ analysis of how to combine the airlines, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the matter is private. Any bid may still be close to a year away, because AMR now holds the exclusive right to file a reorganization plan, the people said.

American has pared its flight network to the point that some corporate travelers have gone elsewhere, leaving the money- losing carrier unable to support most of its hub airports, one person said. That deficiency could be solved by blending American, the third-largest U.S. airline, with No. 5 US Airways, the people said.


US Airlines' 4Q Saw Fuel Prices Rise

By Mia Lamar, Dow Jones Newswires

TAKING THE PULSE: The fourth-quarter reporting season for the airline industry will be dominated by commentary on the outlook for air travel demand as well as the future of AMR Corp. (AAMRQ). The parent of American Airlines filed for bankruptcy protection late last year after months of speculation that Chapter 11 was on the horizon for the struggling company. Focus has now turned to potential suitors for AMR, which won't report results for the period.

Headwinds for carriers in the December quarter included fuel prices that have crept up again in recent months and softer demand for air travel, notably on trans-Atlantic and trans-Pacific routes.


Southwest Airlines Co. (LUV) -- Reports Jan. 19

Wall Street Expectations: Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expect a per-share profit of 8 cents on $4.12 billion in revenue. Southwest a year earlier reported a per-share profit of 18 cents--15 cents excluding one-time items--on $3.11 billion in revenue.

Key Issues: The largest hauler of domestic passengers predicted "solid" fourth-quarter growth in unit revenue--the amount taken in for each passenger flown a mile--yet analysts at Dahlman Rose note Southwest's growth in the closely watched metric has lagged behind peers in recent months. Meanwhile, the integration of fellow discounter AirTran Airways remains of interest, particularly any update on plans to connect the two carriers' networks in the first half of the year.


Rivals Eye American Airlines

Delta, US Airways Among Potential Buyers as Wave of Consolidation Continues

By Gina Chon, Susan Carey and Mike Spector
The Wall Street Journal

Potential buyers are circling American Airlines, weighing bids for its parent company that could place the storied but unprofitable carrier in the hands of a rival or a private-equity firm.

Delta Air Lines, US Airways private equity firm TPG Capital are separately assessing possible bids for American Airlines parent AMR. Anupreeta Das has details on The News Hub. Photo: AP

People familiar with the matter said Delta Air Lines Inc., US Airways Group Inc. and TPG Capital separately are studying bids for AMR Corp., which two months ago became the last of the big "legacy" airline operators to file for bankruptcy-court protection after a decade of industry consolidation.

American, which traces its roots back more than eight decades, has been losing money since 2008. Shorn of its hefty costs, however, the No. 3 U.S. carrier by traffic could be an attractive prize for Delta or US Airways, with hubs in markets including Chicago and Dallas and a strong overseas presence.

A deal for the carrier would represent perhaps the last major move in a wave of airline consolidation that has slashed the number of major national carriers to five from roughly triple that number two decades ago.


US Airways, Pilots Agree to End Suit over Work Slowdown after Court Order 

US Airways Group Inc. (LCC) and the US Airline Pilots Association asked a federal judge to make permanent his Sept. 28 order directing the union to end a work slowdown.

In a Jan. 6 filing, lawyers for both sides told U.S. District Judge Robert J. Conrad Jr. in Charlotte, North Carolina, that they decided to end the lawsuit. A trial had been set for Oct. 22.

US Airways in July accused the union, which represents 5,200 of its pilots, of encouraging members to call in fatigued, write up more maintenance issues and reject voluntary flight assignments because of dissatisfaction with the pace of contract negotiations. Conrad said those tactics caused "a significant decline" in the airline’s on-time performance, harming the company’s reputation and finances.


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