Largest airline merger seals industry consolidation

New York --Thursday's merger between American Airlines and US Airways marks the latest in a series of recent deals that has consolidated the airline industry.

Time reports that American Airlines and US Airways have agreed to merge in an $11 billion (about R97 billion at R8.80/$) deal that would create the world’s biggest airline.

The combined carrier will be called American Airlines but run by US Airways CEO Doug Parker.

The boards of the two airlines unanimously approved the deal late Wednesday, and the companies announced the agreement Thursday.

The merger would reduce the number of major U.S. airlines to four: the new American, United, Delta and Southwest.

The deal is a coup for smaller US Airways Group Inc., which pushed for a merger almost as soon as American parent AMR Corp. filed for bankruptcy protection in November 2011.

While Parker runs the company, AMR CEO Tom Horton will serve as chairman until its first shareholder meeting, likely in mid-2014.

Here is a timeline of major mergers since 2004.

May 2004: Air France buys Dutch airline KLM. The airline, now known as Air France KLM, is one of Europe's biggest with 75.8 million passengers. With 586 aircraft, the airline travels to 230 destinations in 113 countries.

May 2005: while in bankruptcy, US Airways merges with regional carrier America West to form the fifth biggest American airline. It currently transports around 80 million passengers to more than 190 destinations.

April 2008: Delta Air Lines merges with Northwest Airlines, forming a company with 722 planes and traveling to 320 cities in the world.

September 2009: Germany's Lufthansa takes overs Austrian Airlines to become the biggest airline in Europe.

May 2010: Continental Airlines and United Airlines announced their merger, creating a carrier with 700 aircraft flying to 370 destinations in 59 countries.

August 2010: Chile's LAN and Brazilian peer TAM combine to form Latin American giant LATAM. The firm has more than 280 planes and flies to 115 destinations in 23 countries.

January 2011: British Airways and Spain's Iberia merge to become the International Airlines Group. The new firm counts 419 planes, flies to more than 200 destinations and serves about 55 million passengers by year.

February 2013: American Airlines and US Airways officially announce their merger, giving birth to the number one US airline and a global giant. The new company has around 1,500 planes and flies to 336 destinations in 56 countries.

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