12 ON YOUR SIDE: American Airlines/US Airways merger impact

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - The latest development in a move to create the world's biggest airline is now official. American Airlines and US Airways announced plans to merge.

But it could be months, even years, before passengers see any significant impact.

This deal still needs court, stockholder, and federal approval, but, that's not stopping local travelers from wondering what it means to them.

The merger does reduce the number of competitors, so air travelers will definitely be watching what happens with fares. But in the short term, Richmond International Airport says it will go virtually unnoticed by Richmond flyers.

Airport spokesman Troy Bell expects no immediate impact for flyers but acknowledges both are important heavy-weight airlines.

"Between the two, they offer about 25 departures from Richmond every day and carry roughly one third of Richmond International Airport passengers."

It's the 4th mega merger in three years, and there's concern about what less competition means for prices.

"The encouraging sign, when you look at where they fly to from Richmond, there really is no overlap. Between the two airlines, they serve six markets. They don't serve the same cities directly."

Elsewhere, Rick Seaney of FareCompare.com is not as optimistic about the merger's impact. Some think they're already paying too much to fly.

"In the long term, this is going to be less competition, and this is going to raise ticket prices, but in the short term - we're already going to see higher prices," said Seaney.

The bright spots are getting accolades though. In the long run, flyers may feel better about changes in the flying experience.

While there may be bumps along the way, as the two airlines join forces, the perks won't go away because the airline wants to keep business travelers, their bread and butter.

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