Strategic variance analysis, Airline merger, Mergers & acquisitions (M&A), Market power, Horizontal acquisitions


This case provides students the opportunity to apply strategic variance analysis (SVA) methodology in analyzing the performance changes realized in an airline merger. The U.S. Airways–America West merger provides an example of a complex, strategic action that simultaneously impacts firm size, unit pricing and costs, efficiency, and capacity for the combining airlines. This merger provides a rich example for the analysis since it combines U.S. Airways, a higher cost network airline that is geographically focused on the Eastern U.S., with America West, a low cost airline operating primarily along the Western U.S. The case includes merger and acquisition (M&A) theory discussing market power vs. efficiency motives for mergers and discusses the role of the U.S. Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission in evaluating M&As and their impact on markets. The case asks students to serve as consultants applying the SVA methodology to the past U.S. Airways–America West merger and provide conclusions.