Is a US Airways-American Airlines merger in the works?

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PHOENIX -- US Airways has made no secret of its interest in a merger with American Airlines and now the hometown airline is buying up internet domain names in case they come to an agreement.

As you can imagine US Airways is pretty tight lipped about the whole thing but that isn't keeping other people from speculating about the airline's future.

"I know there are a lot of rumors and speculation going around about what's going on at US Airways," said Doug Parker chairman and CEO of Tempe-based US Airways. With so much speculation surrounding the fifth-largest airline and a possible merger with the third-largest airline, Parker immediately told the Economic Club of Phoenix, "I just want to make sure you guys know I'm not going to break any news."

It is no secret that US Airways is interested in a merger with the now bankrupt American Airlines.  It has hired a number of advisors to help assess the situation, and it has even secured several domain names in case such a combo should emerge.

"The purchase of these domain names, along with other potential transaction names, is simply a step to ensure others do not use our marks in a way that might negatively impact our brand," said US Airways spokesperson Andrew Christie.

US Airways is a brand that means a lot to the Valley of the Sun.
"I can't help but brag about what we do here in Phoenix," Parker said. "We've got 275 flights today to 76 destinations, 11 of them international, and 9,000 employees here at corporate headquarters."

Should US Airways merge with American to form the second-largest airline behind United, "It would be an excellent boost for the economy," said Prof. Lee McPheters with the W.P. Carey School of Business.  "You're talking about a major employer, very important to the Phoenix economy and positive changes such as growth would be a big boost."

Regardless of whether Parker is talking about it, there is quite a bit of interest in how it might play out.

"Oh I think a lot of people are watching to see how this evolves over the next few months," McPheters said.

Of course there is talk that Delta may also be interested in merging with American.