(Reuters) - The top executive of US Airways Group Inc LCC.N sought to bolster shareholder support on Thursday for a proposed merger with bankrupt American Airlines, saying the financial community already likes the idea and that the two airlines would make a strong combination.
Speaking at the No. 5 U.S. airline’s annual shareholder meeting in New York, Chairman and CEO Doug Parker said a tie-up with American would create “an airline that can compete with anyone, that can be the best airline in the world.” The meeting was broadcast over the Internet.
US Airways disclosed its interest in merging with American in January. American’s parent, AMR Corp AAMRQ.PK, filed for bankruptcy protection in November of last year.
Earlier this week, sources told Reuters that US Airways is hoping to file financial documents with U.S. antitrust regulators as early as July for the proposed merger with AMR Corp.
Parker also said on Thursday that a merger would make the combined carrier much stronger in areas where both are currently weak. He added that US Airways’ stock price, which has more than doubled this year, has been aided by financial community support for the proposed merger.
Shares of US Airways were up 3.3 percent at $12.37 on Thursday morning on the New York Stock Exchange.
Parker said American had lost market share in certain areas of the United States “because they’ve sat out consolidation.” He said mergers have helped airlines become more profitable in recent years.
Parker said US Airways understands that American has a fiduciary duty to explore various merger scenarios. He said his company understands that process is to start after a ruling, expected by June 22, in the court process currently under way in which American is seeking permission to throw out collective bargaining agreements.
Since expressing its interest in acquiring American, US Airways’ plan has won the backing of three unions that represent American’s ramp workers, pilots and flight attendants.
Reporting by Karen Jacobs in Atlanta; editing by Matthew Lewis