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US Airways said it hopes to join its Star Alliance partners
in joint venture initiatives but would not disclose further details on the
status of those efforts. Asked by an airline analyst if US Airways is seeing
incremental contributions from Continental Airlines' relatively recent
membership in the Star Alliance, president Scott Kirby replied, "We aren't
really seeing much incremental yet with Continental joining Star, but we haven't
done much integration with Continental. We do have some benefits in sharing
clubs and other things, but the bigger benefits—codesharing and potential
participation in the JV—are things that we hope are on the horizon, but aren't
in place yet." The carrier confirmed it would like to be in a joint
venture, but would not comment further on when or if discussions are happening.
Continental announced its plans to join Star Alliance in 2008, bolstered by an
antitrust-immune joint venture with Air Canada, Lufthansa and United Airlines
on transatlantic markets. US Airways thus far had been absent from Star
carriers' joint venture initiatives, which are expanding to Pacific markets,
with a pending joint venture among All Nippon Airways, Continental and United.
US Airways would not say whether it is eyeing joint venture participation on
the Atlantic or Pacific, or both, though the carrier has minimal coverage in
Delta, US Airways
Face Year Wait For Slot Swap
It was about a year ago that Delta Air Lines and US Airways
first sketched out plans to trade slots at LaGuardia and Washington National
airports, and it will be at least another year before they advance on those
plans as the carriers remain embroiled in an appeals process with the U.S.
Department of Transportation. Unwilling to adhere to DOT and Federal Aviation
Administration conditions on its proposed slot swap transaction at New York's
LaGuardia and Washington's National airports, Delta and US Airways last month
appealed the ruling, noting they would not proceed under current conditions. US
Airways CFO Derek Kerr during the carrier's second-quarter earnings call said
airline officials expect a final ruling to take about 12 months. "We
still, to be clear, would like to get the deal done," he said. "It's
the right long-term strategic position." The carriers last August
announced their original plan for Delta to swap with US Airways 42 slot pairs
at National in exchange for 125 slot pairs at LaGuardia, but subsequently
revised that deal in an attempt to appease DOT and FAA. Through concessions,
Delta agreed to gain only 110 slot pairs at LaGuardia and give up five slot
pairs apiece to AirTran, Spirit and WestJet. US Airways, meanwhile, agreed to
take only 37 slot pairs at National, deferring the remaining five to JetBlue.
Those concessions, however, did not adhere to DOT requirements outlined in May's
final approval, in which DOT ordered that if the carriers want to pursue the
slot swap, they would have to divest a total of 20 LaGuardia and 14 National
slot pairs "in bundles large enough to ensure that a purchaser would have
a sufficient number of slots to provide meaningful new competition."
Shareholders To Vote On Hertz Merger
Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group shareholders will meet on
Sept. 16 to vote on Hertz's proposed acquisition of the company for just under
$40 per share, or about $1.2 billion. In late July, Avis Budget Group put a
competing bid on the table, offering $46.50 per share or more than $1.3 billion
and an agreement Avis Budget chairman and CEO Ronald Nelson said contained "substantially
the same terms as the Hertz merger agreement but includes removing the matching
rights, eliminating the breakup fees and increasing the commitment to secure
antitrust approvals." Dollar Thrifty said its board of directors would
review the proposal. Under its agreement with Dollar Thrifty, Hertz has the
right to match Avis Budget's offer, and it carries a $5 million break-up fee if
it falls through. Analysts have told BTN
that neither deal should have a major impact on corporate car rental rates.
This story originally
appeared in the August 9, 2010, edition of Business Travel News.