What would US Air, AA merger mean for passengers?

(CBS News) American Airlines is fighting to stop a hostile takeover by US Airways.

US Air wants to merge, and even has the support of three of American's most powerful unions. But American, currently in Chapter 11, says it wants to come out of bankruptcy as a standalone company.

The deal is "going to take a very long time," if it comes to fruition at all, New York Post Travel writer Jason Cochran pointed out to "CBS This Morning" co-host Rebecca Jarvis, "because the government has to get involved and make sure there are no antitrust issues to worry about.

"And American wants to have its own go of things. Right now, it's saying it would like to be an independent airline, but maybe it's not going to happen that way, because its own unions want to go with US Airways."

US Airways makes move to take over American

Cochran noted that, "About five years ago, we had eight major airlines. If this goes through - and it would take a year-and-a-half or more to go through - we would have essentially four. And the reduction of competition is going to have some effects on consumers.

"It's simply Free Market 101," he said. "With fewer competitors, there's less to hold down the prices. And an airline can raise prices, pretty much, without anyone else coming at them with competition.

What about the carriers' frequent flyer programs?

That, says Cochran, is a big question mark, "because US Airways is with the Star Alliance and American is with OneWorld. Two different groups and two different networks of airlines. So it remain to be seen what's going to happen and which airline is going to win out on the alliance front.

"Also, there are going to be fewer seats flying because, (as) one airline goes away, a lot of routes can be reduced -- at least some runs can be reduced, so there are going to be fewer seats going. With fewer seats going, getting frequent flier miles redeemed is not such an easy trick."

To see the entire interview - including what Cochran thinks a merger would mean for the airlines' workers - click on the video in the player above.

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