Nutter backs US Airways’ effort to merge with American Airlines

Posted: July 24, 2012

The Nutter administration supports US Airways' efforts to merge with bankrupt American Airlines, believing it would bring more business and new travel options to Philadelphia International Airport.

Deputy mayor Rina Cutler said Monday a combined airline would have the aircraft for nonstop flights to China and Japan, opening up Asia markets that US Airways can't reach now.

Currently, the only nonstop flight to Asia from Philadelphia is a US Airways flight to Tel Aviv, Israel. Philadelphia is the largest metro area in the country without nonstop service to other cities in Asia.

"American has those aircraft now, so we could get that service several years earlier" than 2017, when US Airways will receive long-haul jets capable of Philadelphia-to-Asia flights, Cutler said.

Although the city has been arguing with US Airways about plans to expand city-owned Philadelphia International, Cutler said those disagreements don't color the city's support for a merger with American.

"We work together on lots of issues every day," Cutler said. "Our message to US Airways is that we think this is something that can be good for all of us."

US Airways is the dominant carrier in Philadelphia, carrying about 70 percent of the airport's passengers, including 84 percent of international fliers.

Philadelphia is one of US Airways' three main hub cities and would remain a hub for the merged airline, US Airways chief executive Doug Parker has said.

US Airways is the nation's fifth-largest airline, and American is the third-largest. A merger would create the world's largest airline, which would retain the American name and its Dallas-Fort Worth headquarters.

The city has little legal input in the American bankruptcy process, other than as American's landlord at the Philadelphia airport.

But Cutler said the city's public support could encourage other players in the merger battle, including American's unions, which have backed US Airways. And the endorsement could increase support from the local business community, she said.

Contact Paul Nussbaum at 215-854-4587 or .

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