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March 28, 2013

Judge approves airline merger

NEW YORK — American Airlines won bankruptcy court approval Wednesday to combine with US Airways and form the world’s biggest airline.

“The merger is an excellent result. I don’t think anybody disputes that,” Judge Sean H. Lane said before issuing his decision.

But the judge declined to sign off on a proposed $20 million severance package for Tom Horton, currently the CEO of American’s parent AMR Corp.

The approval is an important milestone for American, which filed for Chapter 11 in November 2011 after having long resisted using the bankruptcy process to cut labor and other costs. The merger still needs approval from Department of Justice antitrust regulators and US Airways shareholders. It is expected to close by the fall.

The combined airline will have 6,700 daily flights and annual revenue of roughly $40 billion. The new American Airlines will fly slightly more passengers than United. It will be run by Doug Parker, the CEO of US Airways Group Inc., who began pursuing a merger shortly after American entered bankruptcy protection.

The U.S. trustee, a federal bankruptcy watchdog, had objected to the severance package for Horton.

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