The same day American Airlines and US Airways announced their merger, airline representatives in South Florida said Thursday that local fliers will benefit from the two air carriers' union to become the world's largest airline.
The merger removes any doubt about American Airlines' commitment to its hub at Miami International Airport: American Airlines says it is adding flights to and from Miami and about 150 employees to the 9,000 already on the payroll locally.
"Well, this is really very exciting for us,” said Marilyn Devoe, of American Airlines in Miami. “And although we don't know what the schedules are going to look like going forward, American had planned to grow Miami and we are growing it.
“In fact for this year alone, we are adding more flights that we already have on the books,” she said. “So it’s a great story for Miami.”
US Airways has only a small presence in South Florida while American Airlines dominates at Miami International Airport. Corporate executives say they have no doubts the merger would work toward everyone’s benefit.
“As I talk to the employees here in Miami, they all seem very positive about it as well. And back in Phoenix, people are very excited,” said Madeleine Gray, of US Airways.
American Airlines was in serious trouble, having filed for bankruptcy protection. The merger gives the airline wind under its wings, representatives say.
Devoe said the merger is a perfect fit.
“We don't have any overlapping routes, US Air or American Airlines,” she said, “in fact, in our entire network there are only 12 shared routes, so really this is the perfect blending of airlines.”
One frequent flier questioned the benefit to fliers. "I’m not sure if it’ll be a good thing,” the flier said. “It could go either way.”
But Tom Horton, American Airlines CEO, said the merger with US Airways is a good deal all around for the employees of the combined companies and for regular fliers of both airlines.
“Customers should also be pleased to know that we'll improve loyalty benefits by expanding opportunities to earn and redeem miles in the combined network,” Horton said.