Tag Archives: American Airlines

Why American Air And US Airways Employees Are Helping With The Merger Fight

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You may have noticed a spate of media stories about the employees of American Airlines and US Airways coming out and helping their companies fight against the Dept. of Justice lawsuit that has put a proposed merger on ice.  We’re always hearing about employees and management fighting over things including pay and benefits, worker rules and destinations/bases, to name a few, but not either side showing much love.

And most of the employees who would be affected by the merger were either against, resigned to it or just didn’t care — until DOJ came knocking at the last minute to put the kaibosh on the deal. Then it turned into an “us against the world” story, which is irresistable. Having seen this type of thing up close and personal in my 20 years of covering the industry, here’s why these airline employees have become strange bedfellows with their carriers in the matter of the merger.

First, they now all have a common foe. There’s an old Arabic saying: the enemy of my enemy is my friend. These employees may not be enamored of the management of their airlines, but when a common foe arrives, they are all in the same boat. For good references to this phenomena, see Delta vs. US Airways and Atlantic Coast Airlines vs. Mesa Air Group.

Second, that common foe is the U.S. government, as represented by DOJ. We all know in what high esteem citizens currently hold for the government, in the wake of the battles over the debt ceiling, the budget, Obamacare and sequestration, to name a few. So it’s pretty easy to make the government the bad guy and rally the airline troops for this fight.

Third, the lawsuit has created a “why everyone else and not us” mentality with both groups. Look at the history — DOJ has let other airline mergers pass without a whimper, including American and TWA in 2001, US Airways and America West in 2005, Delta and Northwest in 2008, Southwest and AirTran in 2010, and United and Continental in 2012. The last one they opposed was United-US Airways in 2001, and that one didn’t happen. So why object now, they ask?

Fourth, both airlines are putting a lot of time, resources, and most importantly, money to fund this employee campaign as part of the overall PR effort to fight DOJ’s opposition to this merger. I got a good look at this when Delta was pressing Congress for pension reform. We did a series of editorial board meetings that always included representatives from all the employee groups (including a gate agent who had already lost one pension when Eastern Airlines went under). The bill became law in August 2006.

Finally, these employees see the handwriting on the wall. Conventional wisdom says there still needs to be more airline consolidation (hello JetBlue, Alaska Air, Frontier, Virgin America), so with the American-US Airways announcement, they knew where they stood. Now, everything is in limbo again, so by rallying with their airlines, employees can feel like they’re fighting the good fight.  It will be very interesting to see how this comes out.

Random Aviation Photo

It’s Valentine’s Day and we see the joining together American Airlines and US Airways into what Reuters is calling the “world’s biggest airline.”  So to celebrate the lovebirds, I’m posting a photo I took of some US Airways jets parked at the gate at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport back in April 2008.  Enjoy this livery while you can!!

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Rolling Aviation Thoughts

  • I am a big fan of art in airports.  I feel like it breaks up the monotony of the walls, plus I get to experience art I might not see in my everyday life.  So I was delighted to read this great story in USA Today Travel from my airport soul sister Harriet Baskas on the re-dedication of a multi-panel mural at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport saluting African-American achievements in aviation.
  • The New York Times Practical Traveler column recently covered ways that travelers can speed through security lines.  While the article did outline the options (Global Entry and Pre-Check) it made it so very clear how limited the options really are. Global Traveler is for those who travel overseas, while Pre-Check is only for frequent travelers flying on American and Delta. I sure wish there were more options for those of us who don’t fit into the above categories.
  • The Toledo Blade recently had an article about how Toledo Express Airport still hasn’t been able to attract commercial airline service seven months after receiving a $750,000 Small Community Air Service grant designed to bring in a carrier.  This is not a new problem for the airport, which  is about an hour’s drive away from Detroit Metro Airport.  And there’s the problem. You have a major hub airport that offers service around the glob, plus a healthy amount of flights from Southwest Airlines.  And flying out of Toledo to connect through another airport tends to cost more. The airport received a $400,000 grant back in 2006, but had to return the money after having no luck attracting an airport even then. The lesson? Just because you build it, doesn’t mean they will come.
  • Peter Shankman, founder of the Help A Reporter Out website and frequent traveler, recently did a Twitter Q&A on flights from Hong Kong to New York and Newark to Los Angeles International Airport.  Some of the questions — what is the meaning of life — are a little offbeat, but there are plenty of other travel-related questions that are worth a read.
  • Last week, a former flight student tried to steal a Cessna 152 from Compton Airport, reports the Los Angeles Times.  I found several things interesting about this. One, who knew there was an airport in Compton and that it’s been around since 1924? Two, please feel free to insert your favorite NWA jokes here.  And three, click here to read a conversation I had with my flight instructor about this story, on the AOPA Pilot blog.

Rolling Aviation Thoughts

  • I am a big fan of art in airports.  I feel like it breaks up the monotony of the walls, plus I get to experience art I might not see in my everyday life.  So I was delighted to read this great story in USA Today Travel from my airport soul sister Harriet Baskas on the re-dedication of a multi-panel mural at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport saluting African-American achievements in aviation.
  • The New York Times Practical Traveler column recently covered ways that travelers can speed through security lines.  While the article did outline the options (Global Entry and Pre-Check) it made it so very clear how limited the options really are. Global Traveler is for those who travel overseas, while Pre-Check is only for frequent travelers flying on American and Delta. I sure wish there were more options for those of us who don’t fit into the above categories.
  • The Toledo Blade recently had an article about how Toledo Express Airport still hasn’t been able to attract commercial airline service seven months after receiving a $750,000 Small Community Air Service grant designed to bring in a carrier.  This is not a new problem for the airport, which  is about an hour’s drive away from Detroit Metro Airport.  And there’s the problem. You have a major hub airport that offers service around the glob, plus a healthy amount of flights from Southwest Airlines.  And flying out of Toledo to connect through another airport tends to cost more. The airport received a $400,000 grant back in 2006, but had to return the money after having no luck attracting an airport even then. The lesson? Just because you build it, doesn’t mean they will come.
  • Peter Shankman, founder of the Help A Reporter Out website and frequent traveler, recently did a Twitter Q&A on flights from Hong Kong to New York and Newark to Los Angeles International Airport.  Some of the questions — what is the meaning of life — are a little offbeat, but there are plenty of other travel-related questions that are worth a read.
  • Last week, a former flight student tried to steal a Cessna 152 from Compton Airport, reports the Los Angeles Times.  I found several things interesting about this. One, who knew there was an airport in Compton and that it’s been around since 1924? Two, please feel free to insert your favorite NWA jokes here.  And three, click here to read a conversation I had with my flight instructor about this story, on the AOPA Pilot blog.

Random Aviation Photo

In May 2010, I spent the day at the American Airlines Admiral’s Club at Chicago O’Hare to test out the new first class seat being installed on the carrier’s American Eagle regional jets.  I also got to sample a new food menu for those passengers.  I had some time to kill, and the club had killer views of the airport. I love this picture of a Mexicana jet with the Chicago skyline in the background.  Enjoy!