Whenever airline companies merge, it reduces the choices for the public, and despite assurances that fares for ordinary passengers wont increase, theres no guarantee.
So it is with the merger of American Airlines and US Airways, hereafter known as American Airlines Group Inc. The merger, approved by the federal government, will create the biggest airline as measured by traffic. As part of the deal, the airlines will have to surrender some gates at big airports across the country. The theory there, anyway, is that smaller airlines can get room to compete.
But in fact, choices for passengers have been shrinking for years, and its harder and harder for the feisty little airlines to bump heads with the big ones. The industry itself has a tough row to hoe, given the cost of fuel. It relies on corporate travelers who are paying the freight and whose companies can claim part of the cost as a business expense.
For that traveler whos trying to get to grandmas for Thanksgiving, who wants to shop around for a good fare, one thats affordable for family travel, continued mergers arent good news. Its really very simple: Fewer choices mean less competition which means less of an incentive for airlines to hold prices down.
In the wild days of lots and lots of competition (including from US Airways, which used to battle the bigs) its true that airlines did occasionally offer too-good-to-be-true fares with the hopes of making it up on business travel, a pattern that got some in trouble. Its safe to say those days are long gone now.