NEW YORK -- USAir is close to signing an agreement to take over the Trump shuttle, with an option to buy it after five years, two executives close to the talks said yesterday. In return, Donald J. Trump would no longer be held personally responsible for more than $300 million of the shuttle's debt, one source said.
But the executives, who insisted on anonymity, differed on the timing of the pact, with one saying it could be a matter of days and the other saying the move could occur within a week or more.
One of the executives said the banks, which have been trying to come to terms with Mr. Trump on his various debts, agreed to the deal because they felt USAir would pay more for the shuttle at the end of five years than the $360 million Mr. Trump paid Eastern Airlines to acquire it in 1989.
One of the executives, a banker, said last night that no letter of intent had been signed but that USAir was in talks about a deal. The banker said Mr. Trump would no longer be liable for $100 million of the shuttle's debts, though he would still owe $35 million.
It could not be determined yesterday why the executives differed so widely on the extent of Mr. Trump's personal debt in the deal.
The New York developer borrowed the money to buy the shuttle on the basis of his ability to repay the bank loans. At that time, his financial empire was still doing well.
For USAir, the advantage of not buying the shuttle outright is that the airline does not have to put up a lot of cash immediately and that it may be able to overcome antitrust concerns by arguing that it now holds only a minority stake.
USAir, based in Arlington, Va., is a leading carrier at La Guardia Airport in New York, National Airport in Washington and Logan International Airport in Boston, all of which are linked by the shuttle's hourly flights.