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Fitch: AMR-US Airways Deal Leaves Questions for Some Airports

November 15, 2013 Airport No Comments Email Email

The gate divestiture concessions in the antitrust settlement between AMR, US Airways and the U.S. government raise questions on how the carriers’ hubs might ultimately be aligned after the merger, Fitch Ratings says.

The agreement is not likely to have an impact on the two airports with largest number of slot divestitures – Reagan National Airport (DCA) or LaGuardia Airport (LGA), and is intended to preserve service at smaller market airports. The antitrust settlement to allow the $17 billion merger to proceed was reached yesterday.

The merged carrier will divest 52 slots at DCA and 17 at LGA to make room for competing airlines. We do not expect any negative impact for these airports as they are in high demand origin and destination markets with heavy competition for slots. They generally operate under use and lease agreements that we expect to continue after the merger.

The agreement also includes the divestiture of just two gates at Boston Logan, Chicago O’Hare, Los Angeles International and Miami International. These divestitures will also not have an impact as their number is low and not concentrated in one geographic region.

The agreement provides some clarity on how small- to mid-sized airports will fare in the merger. The merged airline will use all of its DCA commuter slot pairs to serve mid-sized and small markets. While the pact affords some operational protections at the existing major hubs for a three-year period, we expect some hubs will be strengthened at the expense of others as the combined carrier implements cost synergies. Fitch will continue to monitor that situation and report promptly.

Additional information is available on

The above article originally appeared as a post on the Fitch Wire credit market commentary page. The original article, which may include hyperlinks to companies and current ratings, can be accessed at All opinions expressed are those of Fitch Ratings.

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