Almost a year into American Airlines’ restructuring process, rumors are swirling about a potential merger with US Airways. While Kenji Hashimoto, the carrier’s new cargo head, recently told Air Cargo World he can’t talk about any potential merger due to a non-disclosure agreement signed with US Airways, and that there is no disclosed timeline for such a deal, he was interested in chatting about what he said has been a successful restructuring.
“We’re still two months shy of the one-year mark,” he said of the carrier’s restructuring amid its emergence from bankruptcy. “There’s no timeline that says we’re X-percent done, but judging by how long we’ve been at it and how far we’ve come, I think we feel pretty good.”
Hashimoto, who had his official coming out party as the new boss at the CNS Partnership Conference in May, said the carrier has been working hard in the past few months. Flown-as-booked numbers on the cargo side are actually up, and the passenger business experienced a boost in the second quarter. This is the most important aspect to him — keeping a thriving business while figuring out the path forward. Hashimoto and other officials have also been working through the “nitty-gritty” of the carrier’s post-bankruptcy financing and have sewn up new contracts with all but one of the carrier’s employee unions.
But all he could say about a merger was, basically, that he couldn’t comment. “At the right time, people will either have something to say or not say,” he told Air Cargo World.
One thing he could definitely talk about is the impending fleet boost American will receive at the end of this year or the beginning of next year. As part of AA Cargo’s restructuring process, airline officials have called for 20-percent growth over the next seven years, and the delivery of nine Boeing 777-300ERs will certainly help the carrier reach that goal. Hashimoto sees these planes being used on routes from the U.S. to London and to Sao Paulo, which will increase capacity on those lanes, but will also help transform the rest of American’s network.
“In some cases, those 777-300s will be pushing a 777-200 out to another place or maybe pushing that 777-200 into a place where a 767-300 was flying, and you have these interesting knock-on effects,” he said. “There’s going to be secondary effects as these 777-300s come into play where we might see even more interesting planes flying into places where we have smaller planes flying in today.”