will assume ’ name and relocate to the Fort Worth-based carrier’s headquarters, Aviation Week has confirmed.
Most of the details of US Airways’ proposal to buy AMR are still unknown, and in its announcement earlier today the Tempe, Ariz.-based airline was hesitant to provide any concrete information apart from assertions that it would reduce AMR’s proposed job cuts from 13,000 to 6,800 and that there will be unspecified “enhancements to the compensation and benefits currently” provided AMR workers.
Sources, however, are starting to provide snippets of information. Two insiders with detailed knowledge of US Airways lobbying effort this week on Capitol Hill say delegations from Texas have been assured the takeover will in essence be a reverse merger, something US Airways Chairman and CEO Doug Parker conducted in 2005 when his America West Airlines assumed US Airways’ operations and identity during the Arlington, Va.-based airline’s second Chapter 11 reorganization.
But in contrast to the 2005 deal, Parker is prepared to break ties with Arizona in favor of the larger carrier’s Texas base. A similar package was proposed by Parker when he approachedwith a merger accord in 2010. Under that deal, US Airways’ would have assumed the role of CEO at a United headquarters in Chicago.
US Airways believes moving to Fort Worth and retaining the American brand will remove some potential opposition to its takeover, even though it may come at the cost of some goodwill in Arizona, says one source. It should also soften the blow that American’s widebody maintenance base at Fort Worth Alliance Airport still will be dramatically affected even if the US Airways takeover succeeds.
American’s Transport Workers Union (TWU)-represented staff still will be reduced under US Airways’ plan, confirm two sources, although guarantees have apparently been made to politicians from Oklahoma that American’s base in Tulsa will be saved from any reductions.
It is unclear how many of the 6,800 jobs cuts still intended in US Airways plan will affect TWU workers, especially as sources confirm US Airways will provide buy outs for American’s flight attendants. But using AMR’s own demands as a guide, should the Association of Professional Flight Attendants ranks decline by 2,300, as required under AMR’s reorganization plan, that still leaves some 4,500 positions still to be accounted for.
Duplication at management and support levels can account for some of this, but several thousand of American’s mechanics still may lose their jobs. Currently, about 2,100 staff are employed at American’s Fort Worth Alliance base.
Still, this number is significantly below the near 9,000 TWU jobs AMR intends to cut from its ranks, with about 8,500 coming from mechanics and flight services divisions.
And then there are US Airways’ current workers to contend with. Sources differ on the seniority deal, but at the very least it seems American’s pilots and flight attendants will be combined with US Airways’ current work force based on their date of hire, which benefits the higher-tenured staff at American and the old US Airways, but not the America West employees, who are already embittered by the 2005 consolidation pact.
Indeed, US Airways’ pilots and flight attendants still have to combine and negotiate joint labor agreements, and with different representatives than American’s organized labor groups there will be challenges convincing US Airways’ current staff of the benefits a takeover will provide.
This concern is already evident in statements from the US Airways’ Association of Flight Attendants-CWA chapters. “A contract for flight attendants at US Airways must be completed prior to any new merger deal … any new deal must first acknowledge the contributions of US Airways flight attendants through a single contract with job security and improvements promised to flight attendants involved in the last merger initiated by US Airways management,” say the presidents of US Airways’ two AFA groups
“Seven years later, that deal still isn’t done. There is a small window of opportunity for US Airways management to get this right,” add Deborah Volpe (AFA pre-merger America West) and Mark Gentile (AFA pre-merger US Airways).
And there are stronger words from the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM), which represents US Airways’ mechanics. “The IAM’s first responsibility is to protect the seniority, job-security, wages, benefits and pensions of our members at US Airways,” says IAM Transportation General VP Sito Pantoja. “We have a long history at US Airways, with substantial experience defending members during mergers and uncertain economic times. We are fully prepared to protect our members as this process unfolds.”
“Too often we have seen airline consolidation advance at the expense of airline workers, except for the corporate executives who cut jobs, raise fares, reduce service, and shower themselves with cash and bonuses,” adds Pantoja. “The IAM will oppose any merger that would take place at the expense of workers, the flying public, and the communities served by these two airlines.”