|Updated: 11/27/2013 5:19 pm
||Published: 11/27/2013 9:29 am
American airlines and US Airways cleared the last big hurdle to merging on Wednesday when a bankruptcy judge approved their settlement with the Department of Justice and ruled the merger could move forward.
The two airlines are now clear to join together to become the largest airline in the world.
Friday will mark two years since American Airlines filed for bankruptcy.
As of Wednesday they are essentially out of bankruptcy and on Dec. 9 American and US Airways will become one giant airline.
Things looked dark for the roughly 6,000 employees at American Airlines' maintenance base in Tulsa after the airline filed for bankruptcy protection in November of 2011.
It was widely believed thousands would be laid off.
Then early in 2013, US Airways stepped into the picture, offering to merge with AA to save thousands of jobs and create the largest airline in the world.
The merger plan was developing until this summer when the US Department of Justice filed a lawsuit to block the merger. They claimed on behalf of several states the merger would create less competition, which, in turn, would raise fares for travelers and it could eliminate jobs across the country.
But earlier this month, AA and US Airways reached a settlement with the DOJ in which the airlines agreed to pull some of their flights out of New York's La Guardia airport and Washington D.C.'s Reagan International.
But then an attorney out of San Francisco asked the bankruptcy court for a temporary restraining order to stop the merger.
On Wednesday, bankruptcy judge Sean Lane rejected that restraining order and approved the settlement between the airlines and the DOJ. Essentially, this ended AA's bankruptcy and cleared the way for the two airlines to officially merge on Dec. 9.
The new American Airlines will be based in Fort Worth and will have more than 100,000 employees across the world.
Both of these airlines have several unions representing different work groups, like pilots and maintenance workers.
Now that the merger is approved, the new American Airlines has to figure out a plan to merge all the unions.
The majority of the roughly 6000 workers at American Airlines’ maintenance base in Tulsa are members of the local Transport Workers Union.
Their counterparts at US Airways are members of the International Association of Machinists.
Now that the merger is all but done the unions can move ahead with negotiations on how to combine into one.
The challenge, though, the two unions don’t have the same pay grades, benefits or pensions.
FOX23 has been told workers at the TWU will be getting raises, but it’s unclear how that will affect members of the IAM.
How to create one large union with fair and uniform pay and benefits will be a challenge and a long process.
Mayor Dewey Bartlett released this statement:
“This news is a long time coming. The leadership of the Tulsa region has been there since the beginning, ready, willing and able to do whatever necessary to insure American stays in Tulsa. It is a positive step for not only job growth in our region but job security. Looks like December 9th will be the day when the largest Airline company in the country will be created and its maintenance base will be in Tulsa Oklahoma. Great way to start a new year.”