American Airlines and US Airways will combine early next month and create the world's largest airline. A New York judge today approved the settlement reached earlier this month between the Justice Department and both airlines, allowing American to emerge from bankruptcy to complete the merger. AMR Corporation, parent of American Airlines, says the deal will be finalized on December 9th. The DOJ had initially (and aggressively) tried to prevent the two popular US airlines from becoming one, arguing that the move would hike airfare for all travelers and harm competition within the industry.
But as the antitrust battle waged on, the Justice Department grew less combative, agreeing to allow the merger if American and US Airways would give up dozens of takeoff and landing slots at numerous major airports across the US. As part of his ruling today, Judge Sean Lane also denied a separate attempt to delay the merger by a group of consumers that have privately sued the airlines with similar antitrust charges. Under terms of the deal, AMR Corporation will be renamed American Airlines Group. The combined airline will be larger than either United or Delta, making it the industry's biggest. American didn't bother waiting for the judge's ruling to begin celebrating; the company yesterday uploaded a YouTube video saying the combined airline had been "cleared for takeoff."