Reporting Jack Fink
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FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – The Allied Pilots Association, the pilots’ union for American Airlines, is hopeful a merger between their airline and US Airways will bring a change at the top of a newly combined airline.
For months now, American’s pilots union have called for a new management team. “What we’ve got at American Airlines is a dysfunctional employee relations culture and that’s something perpetuated by this current management team. We believe the US Airways management team is going to change that dynamic at American, and in a customer service business that’s essential,” says Tom Hoban with the Allied Pilots Association.
They may soon get their wish. Sources say American’s current CEO Tom Horton will likely no longer run the day-to-day operations of the new airline. Instead, US Airways’ CEO Douglas Parker would likely become CEO of the newly named American Airlines. “We believe the US Air management team is going to bring a fresh approach and a new strategic vision to American Airlines,” says Hoban.
But the mechanics union for American at DFW, the Transportation Workers Union of America local 565, isn’t nearly as excited about a merger with US Airways as are the pilots. “We aren’t enthusiastic about either one. US Air’s mechanics are the lowest paid in the industry. American’s mechanics have been the second lowest and currently, merging the airlines does nothing for us,” says Gary Peterson, the president of the local TWU.
Peterson also worries about job losses in the long term. “Not here in the metroplex, but throughout our system. I’m sure the US Air folks are looking at it the same way. Nobody’s been guaranteed their jobs long-term.”
Unlike mechanics, under a merger, American’s pilots as a group would see their compensation jump by more than $520 million over the six years of their contract.
Any time there’s talk of an airline merger, travelers simply want to know if it will cost more to fly, and what will happen to their tickets and free miles. When it comes to a potential combined American Airlines and US Airways, Rick Seaney of Dallas-based farecompare.com says don’t panic. “Your tickets are fine, don’t worry. Your loyalty miles are fine, don’t worry about that.”
If anything, Seaney believes a merger between the two airlines could improve perks — especially for business travelers. As for airfares, Seaney says it’s mixed. “Short term, I don’t think much is going to change. People’s wallets right now tell how they’re gooing to pay for tickets right now. If they start to jack-up prices, it’s the economy that’s going to stop higher ticket prices… Long-term, I think we’re going to pay more for ticket prices.”
In part, he says, because there will be less competition.
The other reason, high oil prices.
But Seaney believes a merger could increase flights at American’s DFW hub because of its centralized location.
American Airlines declined to respond. A spokesman says American continues to review all of its options as it emerges from bankruptcy.
AMR’s board is set to meet Monday to discuss the merger, and a decision could be announced as early as Tuesday. It’s still not a done deal yet.
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