Kenji Hashimoto, American Airline’s president of cargo, expressed confidence this week in the carrier’s previously announced timeline for its $11 billion merger with US Airways.
While American hasn’t commented publicly on how stringent the approval process may be, Hashimoto alluded that the carrier is confident approval will come within the stated timeframe.
“I think it’s telling that we said in February, we’re going to aim for the third quarter, and we’re still saying that,” he told American Shipper
. "A few months have gone by, and the lawyers have spent time talking about it, and we’re still sticking with the third quarter.”
Management at American Airlines and US Airways began meetings last month to begin hammering out a strategy toward integration, and the carriers are working toward announcing a senior leadership team by early next month. The chief executive officers of both airlines, Tom Horton and Doug Parker, released that bit of information in May 6 letter addressed to employees intended to update them on merger activity.
“One of our priorities is putting together the strongest possible leadership team for our combined airline,” the two wrote in the letter. “We are taking the right amount of time to make the most thoughtful decisions and to get it right – not to do it quickly.”
Hashimoto confirmed the two management teams have been meeting to work out potential details, but they are still operating as separate entities and have been careful not to approach any topics that might cross antitrust boundaries. For now, American and US Airways are still separate companies until they receive the all-clear for the merger. In these meetings, management has been discussing broad integration goals, he said.
“We still feel on track (with the merger), but the reality of a merger is that we are separate companies until the close, so we have to act and behave like separate companies,” he said. He noted while at the CNS Partnership 2013 conference in Phoenix, both carriers have been meeting separately with their respective clients.
These new developments are coming amid continued changes for American. The carrier continues to take delivery of new Boeing 777-300 aircraft, and AA Cargo will begin offering a service between Dallas/Fort Worth to Incheon International Airport on Thursday. The new routing — the carrier’s first to the Korean airport — follows the introduction of Chicago-Dusseldorf flights last month.
Despite all the activity, Hashimoto said the industry outlook remains mixed and it's difficult to predict how the rest of the year will develop. There remains an overall positive outlook at AA Cargo, but Hashimoto can make little sense of how activity will turn out for the remainder of 2013.
“We are performing reasonably well compared to the industry comparitors that we can see. But there’s no real strong signal positive or strong signal negative,” he said.
“It’s a bit uncertain,” he continued, “and you’re seeing a lot of mixed results in our numbers.” - Jon Ross