The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Southwest has told Delta and US Airways that they would be more than happy to buy any assets that they would sell them as part of their anti-trust review. If this is true, US Airways should take advantage of this to the fullest.
It’s actually funny that these two airlines could help each other. The old America West management has battled Southwest for over 20 years, especially in its hometown of Phoenix and in Las Vegas. During that time, there have been some nasty spats, but America West certainly found a way to coexist with Southwest and be successful, something that has carried over to the new US Airways. That is no easy feat.
But now, they want to buy Delta, and there could be anti-trust concerns, rational or not. This gives US Airways the opportunity to appease the government regulators by offering to sell off assets to the largest and most well-respected LCC around, Southwest. Assuming US Airways and Southwest could agree on a price and the government doesn’t demand they sell too much, I can’t see how the government could shoot this deal down.
What assets would this involve? Well Southwest really is interested in the east coast, so you can bet Washington/National and New York/La Guardia are on their list. They would love to get their hands on enough slots to making flying there frequently workable. I bet they could also be convinced to take some Charlotte flying if necessary as well.
If US Airways sells slots at these congested airports to Southwest, it opens up low fare competition tremendously, and the government might be willing to overlook some of the smaller airport issues since the benefit to masses of consumers would be so great in this instance.
I’m beginning to think this could actually happen.