The Tempe-based airline, whose months-long merger overtures have been largely dismissed by American executives, is currently reviewing whether to agree to sign American's so-called non-disclosure agreement. That will allow the two to confidentially share competitive information on the path toward possible merger talks.
"We're hopeful that we'll be in a consensual process, maybe sometime soon," President Scott Kirby said in a meeting with the editorial board of The Arizona Republic.
CEO Doug Parker said if US Airways decides it doesn't like the terms in the agreement, it instead will make another move to push the merger process along. He did not elaborate but said, either way, the decision will come within a month. The airline could take its case directly to the airline's creditors, or it could make a hostile bid.
"I don't think it should be surprising that we're not just going to pack our bags and go home," Parker said. "So we'll try and do something. You'll see something else."
US Airways, the smallest of the big four hub-and-spoke airlines, has been pressing its case for a merger with American since that airline filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection late last year. The merger would create an airline on par with United and Delta, each of which grew dramatically in the past few years through major acquisitions. A combined airline would be able to better compete for lucrative business travelers, especially on the East Coast and in the Midwest.
"It allows American to return to what it used to be, which is one of the top airlines in the world," Parker said.
American has softened its stance on a potential merger recently, agreeing to evaluate strategic alternatives and send out the non-disclosure agreements. But the airline has said its preference is to consider a merger after it emerges from Chapter 11. US Airways and its supporters maintain that the deal should be done while American is in bankruptcy because the airlines can more easily make decisions on airplane leases, credit-card deals and other contracts.
The US Airways-America West merger in 2005, which Parker and Kirby spearheaded as the top executives at Tempe-based America West, was done when US Airways was in bankruptcy.
Parker wouldn't handicap the odds of an American-US Airways merger getting done but said, "We feel good about the chances."
The airline, one of Phoenix's seven Fortune 500 companies, reiterated its stance that the headquarters of the combined airline would be called American and be based in Fort Worth, where American is based. Gov. Jan Brewer and other political leaders have launched an effort to keep the headquarters in Arizona.
Parker said conceding the headquarters to Texas was not a decision made lightly but that it had to be done. "We are trying to get a transaction done, and there are certain things we're going to have to give to get this done," he said.
He downplayed the loss of the headquarters to the Phoenix area, calling the headquarters a community "trophy" as opposed to a huge economic driver. The bigger impact from US Airways' presence in Arizona, he said, is its huge hub at Sky Harbor International Airport. The airline has nearly 290 daily departures from the airport, more than any carriers, and the operation supports about 7,000 of US Airways' 9,000 local jobs.