Rumors abound that American Airlines has two suitors, one we knew about and one we didn't. Since filing for bankruptcy in November, industry analysts have wondered with whom they would merge, twice-spurned USAirways the most obvious choice.
The new rumors, however, have Delta puttin' the moves on, which, if consummated, would make Delmerican (Amelta?) the world's largest airline and put the oneworld alliance in existential peril:
Since I'm generally bullish on the airline alliances (and competition between them), I'd tend to think the US Airways/oneworld route would be better for competition, and thus better for travellers. But the real question is what American government regulators and anti-trust authorities think about the whole idea. A Delta-American merger would produce a company that would control a huge chunk of domestic market—29.6%, double the share of its next biggest competitor, Southwest Airlines.
Another issue is whether Delta's supposed interest in acquiring American is serious or simply an effort to cause problems for US Airways and oneworld. It's hard to imagine that Delta's executives aren't aware of the regulatory problems a merger with American might face. Whatever happens, this struggle will be interesting to watch.
Blogger Matt Yglesias argues that an American/USAirways merger would be more patriotic, and "would give the United States three really big global carriers—United, Delta, and US/American—with the merged entity ideally joining the OneWorld alliance so we'd have strong representation in each of the three major global airline alliances." And it would keep Chicago one of aviation's world capitals, since a merger with Delta would encourage shutting either O'Hare or Delta's nearby hub in Detroit.
With this many rumors circulating, I expect we'll hear something definitive relatively soon.