US Airways announced a major step Friday that could set up a merger with American Airlines.
The airline's CEO Doug Parker said signing a deal with American Airlines' three unions representing about 55,000 workers was an "important first step." The contract would cover them if a merger went forward, which the unions say they now support.
There are several other steps that would need to happen for a merger to take place, including US Airways getting approval from American's creditors, management and board of directors. American Airlines' CEO has also said no to the idea.
In fact, American Airlines is fighting to restructure itself in the midst of bankruptcy and re-emerge as a stand-alone airline.
UNC Charlotte Economic Professor Dr. Peter Schwarz said he believes a merger would lead to fewer flights because he would expect the two airlines to likely eliminate routes that overlap. As a result, he said, he would also expect higher ticket prices.
Traveler Sandra Hoyt said she didn't like the idea.
"I'm not a fan of prices going up, not at all," Hoyt said.
But Dr. Schwarz said he believes it would be good for Charlotte-Douglas Airport, possibly adding more flights to South America and Europe.
"What you would have is a lot more people transferring out of Charlotte than we even have now, with one stop connections," he said.
In an email to employees on Friday, US Airways CEO Doug Parker said he was "hopeful" about the merger and that he would be "maintaining both airlines' existing hubs" if a merger did occur.
American Airlines officials would not comment directly on US Airways' actions, saying only that they're focused on restructuring during the bankruptcy, and that a judge has given them until at least Sept. 28 to work on it so no merger could move forward before then. In a statement released Friday, they said in part, "We are making substantial progress in our efforts to return American to industry leadership."
Still, Dr. Schwarz said the merger is very possible.
"I think American's in a very tough spot as far as coming out of this as an independent airline," he said.
Schwarz said he believes all the steps would take at least 18 months.
American Airlines said they can also file for extensions with the bankruptcy judge.