(By Mani) AMR Corp. (PINK:AAMRQ), the parent company of American Airlines, reported its second consecutive monthly profit, suggesting that its current turnaround plan has started bearing fruits. Meanwhile, the airline sent out a nondisclosure agreement (NDA) to the US Airways Group, Inc. (NYSE:LCC), putting them back on the track of a possible merger as the NDA allows them to share confidential, competitive information.
AMR posted a net profit of $135 million for the month of July, including $54 million in reorganization expenses. This follows a $33 million profit reported for the month of June.
AMR filed for bankruptcy protection in November 2011 to trim its debt load and cut costs after failed negotiations with pilot unions and higher fuel costs forced the company to take the last resort.
Given that AMR informed its employees in July that the company had sent an NDA to US Airways, which has expressed strong interest in a merger with AMR, it raises the question of which other companies, if any, did receive NDAs from AMR.
The other four companies named were JetBlue Airways Corp. (NASDAQ:JBLU), Frontier, Virgin America, and Alaska Air Group, Inc. (NYSE:ALK).
Meanwhile, the merger with US Airways looks most probable as it would combine the fourth (American) and fifth (US Airways) largest airlines nationally, making US Airways-American the largest U.S. carrier with a combined share of over 20 percent.
In January, US Airways expressed interest to buy American Airlines merging the two carriers – a move that could yield more than $1.5 billion a year in added revenue and cost savings. In April, American Airlines' three unions said they support a proposed merger between American and US Airways.
However, the potential merger had been getting mixed response. The pilots of American Airlines, a subsidiary of AMR Corp., voted down an agreement with the management that would have given them a 13.5 percent equity stake in the newly restructured company.
US Airways was in favor of AMR's pilots agreeing to the new contract to facilitate the standalone/merger comparison. However, the airline isn't importantly hurt by this vote against the contract as the vote can be seen as a vote of no confidence in AMR management by AMR pilots.
A White Paper from the American Antitrust Institute (AAI) and Business Travel Coalition (BTC) says a merger between US Airways and American could substantially reduce competition on a number of routes, create regional strongholds at key airports across the country, and starve smaller communities of important air service.
Recently, JetBlue CEO Dave Barger broke the company's silence on the potential for an AMR-specific M&A scenario. In an interview with Bloomberg, Barger stated that not only did the company not wish to receive an NDA from AMR, but more interestingly that they had yet to receive one.
JetBlue has been very vocal that the company wishes to grow organically as an independent entity, but has avoided any direct commentary dismissing a potential tie-up with bankrupt carrier AMR.
JetBlue was reportedly among a list of five potential NDA recipients named by AMR CEO Tom Horton during an unsecured creditors committee meeting in July, which heightened conjecture on a merger between the two in various press reports.