Merging Competitors: U.S. Airways and American Airlines

April 10, 2024

In February 2013, U.S. Airways announced that it would merge with American Airlines to create the world’s largest airline. During the acquisition, then-CEO Doug Parker and his board had transformative decisions to make.

How should two large corporations merge their operations? Which members of each company’s C-suites should stay? How fast should they move on these changes? Parker knew that these strategic decisions would send important signals to employees, customers, and competitors.

In this episode, Harvard Business School senior lecturer David Fubini breaks down the strategy underlying this historic airline industry merger. He explains how Parker approached each of these strategic decisions — especially in areas, like culture and operations, where American and U.S. Airways had huge differences.

Key episode topics include: strategy, corporate governance, mergers and acquisitions, operations strategy, aerospace sector, airlines, leadership.

HBR On Strategy curates the best case studies and conversations with the world’s top business and management experts, to help you unlock new ways of doing business. New episodes every week.

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