Says Contentious Combination Saved 35,000 Jobs
For those of us who follow the
airline industry, the continuing civil war among pilots of US
Airways following its merger with America West three years ago
looks like a failure, with a capital "F"... and that's without such
passenger-related travesties as
$2 for a Dixie cup of Coca-Cola.
The US Airline Pilots Association, which represents the pilots
who came into the merger from the US Airlines side, has sharply
criticized management for not getting the workforce united. But in
the overall scheme of things, how big a deal is this dispute?
The Street reports US Airways CEO Doug Parker said, in a recent
interview, that the merger has been a success. "Without a merger,
neither the standalone US Airways nor the standalone America West
could have managed through. But merged, we saved 35,000 jobs."
Parker (right) then admitted, however, that "...pilot
seniority is not something we contemplated we'd still be dealing
three years later," which may go down as one
of the all-time understatements, in any industry.
US Airways was bankrupt in 2005 when it merged with America
West. Well-positioned hubs, strong demand and the industry's cuts
in capacities have helped the combined company survive.
Despite the ugly headlines surrounding the dispute among pilots,
Parker claims "our pilots are keeping this between themselves.
We've had no customers see this affect them in the last three
years. People read about it, but it hasn't affected our operations
Aviation consultant George Hamlin tells The Street the company
could realize efficiencies if pilot lists and contracts are merged,
and warns the ongoing standoff echoes Eastern Airlines in its final
"If you put parochial interests first, last and only, you could
destroy your employer," Parker said. "But so far, you have to count
this as a success, because the airline is still here."