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Effects of American Airlines, US Airways merger unclear for Gainesville airport

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On Thursday, US Airways and American Airlines announced plans to merge and in the process create the world’s largest airline.

The merger has an equity value of $11 billion, according to a press release. American Airlines is waiting on the United States Bankruptcy Court for confirmation and approval from US Airways shareholders to make the merger final.

Laura Aguiar, Gainesville Regional Airport spokeswoman, said there’s no way to tell how the merger will affect services at smaller airports like Gainesville’s airport, which has seen an increase in the number of travelers coming through the airport.

“We recently netted a fourth airline,” Aguiar said. “So our competitive pricing and our fares have actually gotten better. And we kind of bucked the trend just because we are a growing community, and that has really been good for us.”

A Gainesville travel agency said less competition might hurt travelers.

“Fares have gone up in the last year, flights are still running full and the demand is high. So, of course, as long as there’s a strong demand they’ll continue to increase the fares,” said Bob Todd, owner of World Class Travel.

Travelers on American and US Airways won’t notice immediate changes, until the merger is approved, according to the press release. The release said there are no changes to either airlines’ frequent flyer programs, and miles will continue to be honored, of either airline at the time.

Travelers will be notified on frequent flyer program updates as that information becomes available, American Airlines said in the release.

American Airlines’ bankruptcy case began in November of 2011, according to the Wall Street Journal. The journal said airline mergers happen in order to boost revenues and drive costs down.

“Together, we will be even better positioned to deliver for all of our stakeholders, including our customers, people, investors, partners and the many communities we serve,”  said Thomas Horton, CEO, president and chairman of American Airlines, in the press release.

Emily Stanton wrote this story online.

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