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OFFICIAL: American Airlines files for bankruptcy protection

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As has been long speculated in aviation circles, American Airlines parent company AMR, Inc. today filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The company has assured its customers that business will continue as usual, according to the Los Angeles Times.

A more interesting question is whether another company will make a purchase offer for the fragile airline. As I speculated way back in 2009, it's possible that Phoenix-based US Airways, the only airline not to have merged since the onset of the economic crisis, may make attemt to pursue a merger American Airlines.

US Airways in 2006 made an unsuccessful bid for Delta Air Lines before that carrier exited its own Chapter 11 bankruptcy, at which point it entered into a successful merger union with Northwest Airlines, forming what was at the time the world's largest airline.

The so-called "new" Delta lost that title when the Department of Justice approved the Continental-United merger, which is currently in its completion phase, in 2010.

Aviation bloggers and enthusiasts alike have long speculated that merger-happy US Airways CEO Doug Parker would continue trying to partake in the consolidation that has defined the post-recession aviation industry -- and he may have his chance, now that American Airlines (who has officially stated it has no interest in merging with another carrier) is in such a weakened state.

Stay tuned to the Austin International Travel Examiner for more information as it becomes available.

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