"Share The Market's View Merger Would Be Extremely
Even while many
industry analysts believe a merger between United Airlines and US
Airways is an inevitable certainty, the United chapter of the Air
Line Pilots Association says they view such a merger as a truly
As ANN reported, just one
week ago many assumed United was close to a merger with Continental
Airlines... but that Houston-based airline put an end to such talk
on April 27, when Continental announced it planned to continue as
an independent carrier, or as part of a strengthened, non-merger
alliance with other airlines.
Apparently eager -- some would say desperate -- to merge with,
well, anyone interested, United immediately reopened what had been
preliminary talks with US Airways about combining operations. Those
talks appear to be in high gear... and a merger announcement could
come within the next couple weeks.
That would be a horrendously bad idea, says Captain Steve
Wallach, Chairman of the United Master Executive Council of ALPA.
While United isn't exactly known as a shining beacon of operational
efficiency, or positive management/labor relations... Wallach says
US Airways is even worse.
"Continental Airlines' abandonment of merger discussions has
produced intense media speculation that United Airlines is in final
merger negotiations with US Airways. This speculation has created
enormous concern among the pilots of United.
"United pilots share the market's view that a merger with US
Airways would be extremely negative from United's perspective,"
Wallach added. "While United has its own problems and issues --
mostly created by management's single-minded focus since bankruptcy
exit on consolidation as opposed to the basic 'blocking and
tackling' required to run a successful airline -- US Airways'
problems run even deeper."
ALPA notes US Airways "significantly" trails other legacy
carriers in generating cash flow, and consistently ranks at or near
the very bottom of most customer satisfaction indexes.
"Much of this is a
result of US Airways' inability to achieve operational integration
despite the fact that more than two and one-half years have elapsed
since its merger with America West," Wallach said. "Continued
difficulties associated with pilot seniority integration are well
chronicled. Even those reports grossly underestimate the complexity
of seniority integration, which likely will not be solved without
years of litigation.
"US Airways' pilot integration problems have created a toxic
stew, as any carrier that seeks to merge with it will quickly
discover and one which in the current environment could imperil a
United/US Airways combined enterprise."
Wallach recommends United "should take a page from Continental,
and turn its attention inward. United is the only carrier in the
industry with no aircraft on order or optioned. That is not a
long-term plan for survival. While United's labor costs are among
the lowest in the industry, its other costs excluding fuel and
labor are among the highest, year over year.
"The United pilots have always been proactive in seeking
creative solutions to problems. We have repeatedly demonstrated our
ability to make the airline fly, despite management's missteps.
However, we do not view a marriage with US Airways as anything
remotely resembling a solution."