US Airways shareholders approve merger with American

Fri Jul 12, 2013 2:53pm EDT
 
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(Reuters) - US Airways Group Inc LCC.N shareholders approved the carrier's plan to merge with AMR Corp's AAMRQ.PK American Airlines, clearing another hurdle to the deal that would create the world's largest carrier.

Of nearly 132.8 million shares voted, 132.3 million were in favor of the merger, the company announced on Friday after its annual meeting in New York.

US Airways said 257,757 shares were cast against the merger, and 256,523 abstained.

The $11 billion merger deal was announced in February and the companies expect to complete it by the end of September. The new American Airlines will be based in Dallas-Fort Worth.

The merger must still be approved by antitrust regulators. The U.S. Justice Department, along with attorneys general from 19 states, is considering whether the merger would harm competition. Some states involved in the probe worry that they could lose an airline hub because of the transaction. Others are concerned about potential curbs to service in smaller cities, sources have said.

RIVALS SEEK SLOT DIVESTITURES

US Airways Chief Executive Doug Parker told the shareholder meeting on Friday that rivals such as JetBlue Airways JBLU.O and Southwest Airlines (LUV.N: Quote) were pushing hard to influence regulators to require the merged carrier to shed takeoff and landing rights, especially at Reagan National Airport just outside Washington, D.C. That airport has been a focal point of the regulatory probe of the merger .

Parker, who will be CEO of the new American Airlines, added that should the combined carrier be required to give up such slots at Reagan National, it would be forced to cut service to small cities.

"We will as stewards of our shareholders' resources divest those (slots) that are the least lucrative, and that flying is going to be to small communities," Parker said during the annual meeting, which was broadcast over the Internet.   Continued...

 
An American Airlines jet takes off while U.S. Airways jets are lined up at Reagan National Airport on the day U.S. Airways' stockholders are expected to vote on whether to approve the $11 billion merger of the two airlines effectively creating the world's largest carrier, in Washington July 12, 2013. REUTERS/Larry Downing