American Airlines Merger

US Airways retained SKDK as it began to explore a merger with American Airlines.
American Airlines


The New American: US Airways & American Airlines Merger.

US Airways retained SKDK as it began to explore a merger with American Airlines, which had recently filed for bankruptcy. SKDK assisted the client over the next year to generate support for a merger as it pressed American Airlines’ management and worked closely with the company’s workers, despite resistance from the company’s executives. Ultimately, the two companies came together to announce their intention to create the new American Airlines. With SKDK’s support, executives began to navigate a complex regulatory review process. Then, in a surprise move, the U.S. Department of Justice and several state attorneys general filed suit to block the merger, putting at risk the jobs of over 100,000 employees and billions in value to stockholders, creditors and customers of both airlines.


Over the course of two years, we provided strategic counsel to the client and supported a team of advisers on virtually every public aspect of the campaign to create the world’s premier airline, which included managing the policy and political effort in Washington, mobilizing labor and grassroots advocates, activating state and local elected officials and local business allies, developing Beltway advertising and coordinating media coverage by Washington antitrust reporters, as well as transportation press.

SKDK advised and coordinated over 100 team members from US Airways’ and American’s corporate offices, as well as six major labor unions and lobbyists at the federal, state and local levels. Following the announcement, executives from American Airlines and US Airways testified at three major hearings in the House and Senate. We managed preparations for each hearing, developing materials and testimony; prepping executives for their testimony; coordinating a show of labor support from both companies; organizing hearing staffing and logistics; and mobilizing bipartisan grassroots support from state and local government officials from dozens of states. Using hundreds of letters and statements urging approval of the merger, we generated extensive local and national media coverage.

We orchestrated Capitol Hill outreach, labor communications and state and local advocacy. And, leveraging the tremendous employee enthusiasm for the combined airline, SKDK planned and executed numerous public events, such as a major address at the National Press Club with CEO Doug Parker and large-scale fly-ins on Capitol Hill with massive demonstrations of employee support. SKDK’s award-winning design and production team produced compelling print and digital advertisements to effectively target Beltway and national audiences. SKDK managed all D.C.-based media outreach and coverage surrounding the merger announcement, the broad show of sustained support for the merger, as well as the lawsuit brought by the Justice Department. We worked closely with transportation, regulatory and antitrust reporters, providing rapid response, story and op-ed placement.


After the U.S. Department of Justice unexpectedly filed suit to block the merger, SKDK helped frame the responsive public dialogue and marshaled unprecedented community and political support for the deal. The DOJ opted to settle the lawsuit just three months later, and the merger closed successfully. To this day, American Airlines continues to be a valued partner of SKDK.

Seen In