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Wed, Apr 20, 2005

US Airways, America West Talking Merger

Could This Be The Start Of Something Big?

The would-be bride and groom aren't saying much about it, but from all indications, financially beleaguered US Airways and America West are on the verge of marriage. Such a deal would be the vanguard in what experts believe is a coming wave of consolidations in the airline industry.

"We believe consolidation in the industry is inevitable," America West CEO Douglas Parker said in a conference call, quoted by CNN. "We are in and out of talks with several airlines. If something like this is happening, we want to be forward-thinking about it."

"We have been in discussions with a number of interested parties over the last several months," US Air CEO Bruce Lakefield said in a recorded message to employees on the company's hotline. "But this mornings news coverage has been much more extensive." He, too, was quoted by CNN.

Neither CEO would confirm they're actually talking with each other, but both were less shy about dropping hints.

America West Wednesday posted a profit for the second quarter, turning around the losses of a year ago. US Air, however, is still mired in its second bankruptcy since 9/11, still struggling for labor concessions and, like its rival carriers, struggling mightily to cope with soaring fuel prices.

So why would America West want to take on such an obvious liability as US Airways? Parker told his conference call that, even though the idea of such a marriage might have been unthinkable even a couple of years ago, the industry has changed and conditions are more favorable.

Southwest, JetBlue... are you seeing this?

FMI: www.americawest.com, www.usairways.com

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