US Airways shareholders voted to approve the carrier's merger with American Airlines' parent company, AMR Corp. on Friday morning. The formal part of the shareholder meeting in New York lasted about 15 minutes.
It creates an important strong competitor to United, Delta and Southwest, chief executive Doug Parker said prior to the shareholder vote. We will create a premier global airline.
With the shareholder approval, the merger of American and US Airways is one step closer to completion. The deal still needs approval from the US Justice Department and AMR creditors are currently considering the merger proposal as part of American's restructuring plan to emerge from bankruptcy protection.
Parker, who will be the new chief executive of the combined carrier, told shareholders he does not expect any delay in gaining antitrust blessing from the U.S. Department of Justice despite suggestions that the merged carrier be forced to divest slots at Reagan National Airport in Washington. He said that Dallas-based Southwest Airlines and JetBlue were lobbying the hardest on the issue.
He said there is no legal basis to force American and US Airways to divest slots at Reagan, saying that the carriers combined share of flights would still be less than United, Delta and Southwest maintain at other airports.
Divesting slots would result on lost service from Washington to several smaller cities, Parker said, calling that really bad policy. He said he expects the merger deal to close in September.
The 11 billion dollars deal gives 72% of the equity in the new company to AMR creditors and shareholders and 28% of the equity to US Airways shareholders.
“We’re pleased US Airways shareholders voted to approve the merger agreement with American, representing continued progress on our path toward building the world’s leading airline,” said American spokesman Mike Trevino in a statement.
Outside the meeting, several dozen workers from airport subcontractors for US Airways and American Airlines protested low wages, carrying signs that read: Poverty doesn't fly. They are trying to organize unions and join the Service Employees International.
Parker said he was proud to have the support of union employees at US Airways and American for the merger and that there was little he could do directly for the workers since they don't work for US Airways.
Addressing the issue of combining the two carriers, Parker said that while the corporate culture among top executives was different at American and US Airways, the culture among most employees is very similar. Both want to operate a great airline and serve customers.