Says Integration Of Two Workforces Could Take Seven Years
Steve Wallach is a 747 captain for
United Airlines. Last October, he was also elected chairman of the
United Airlines Master Executive Council of the Air Line Pilots
Association, part of a new executive staff expected to take a hard
line in negotiations with executives whose salaries and bonuses
have incensed pilots who took pay cuts during bankruptcy.
Wallach's election also got him a seat on the airline's board of
directors. Since talk of a merger between United and US Airways
first surfaced, Wallach has been articulate in explaining why, from
the union's perspective, combining the companies would be a
Responding to statements Tuesday by flight attendant groups from
both airlines opposing the merger, Wallach said again Wednesday
that a merger should be a last resort, and warned it could take the
airlines as long as seven years to fully integrate pilot groups
from United and US Airways... especially given that US Airways has
yet to successfully integrate with its last merger partner, America
The Associated Press reports the unions released statements as
Chicago-based United and US Airways Group Inc. continue talks about
a merger that could create the world's largest airline. A decision
is expected within a few days.
Wallach also disputed analyst predictions that a United/US
Airways merger could result in substantial cost reductions,
especially if labor issues go unresolved for years, as he expects.
"Moreover, we believe there are a number of operational issues at
United that need to be addressed, and that it is a mistake to sit
idly by waiting for a merger to bail us out," he said.
The US Airline Pilots Association, newly-elected to represent pilots at US
Airways, has so far been quiet about the proposed
merger. Some America West pilots have come out in favor, but that
group doesn't speak for all pilots.
Others say a combined US Airways/United Airlines would be
hampered by several overlapping routes -- a problem Delta Air Lines
and Northwest have largely avoided, thanks to complimentary route
networks -- and could face tough scrutiny from lawmakers.