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Unions: Support for US Airways merger is not a personal attack on American CEO Horton – 6.18.12

It was a full house at the Amon Carter Conference Room at the Star-Telegram on Monday afternoon.

The Allied Pilots Association, Association of Professional Flight Attendants and the Transport Workers Union joined US Airways chief executive Doug Parker to discuss a potential merger with American Airlines with the Star-Telegram’s editorial board.

Americanís three largest labor unions said they support US Airways possible bid for the Fort Worth-based carrier because the business needs to be run differently. The unions said their desire for a management change at the top of American is not a personal attack on Americanís current chief executive Tom Horton. Instead, their decision is based on an analysis of what they believe is a better business plan offered by US Airways as opposed to Americanís stand-alone restructuring plan.

ìIt canít be business as usual. Itís not losing faith in the individuals,î said Transport Workers Union International president Jim Little, who represents Americanís mechanics, ground crew workers and flight dispatchers. ìItís not saying management is bad and that Tom Horton is a bad guy and he canít run the company. Itís just saying there is a better way of doing it and if we donít seek this opportunity now I donít think American will recover.î

Currently, American is asking the bankruptcy court to reject its labor contracts as part of the Section 1113 process. The judge is expected to rule on Americanís request by Friday.

US Airways chief executive Doug Parker, who attended the meeting, said the process for making a bid for American, which is in bankruptcy, is speeding up although he declined to say when he expects his company to make a formal offer.

ìWe believe we have an idea here that can create a stronger airline, take care of all of the employees and also take care of the creditors of American Airlines than a standalone airline can,î Parker said. ìThe two networks are so complimentary, we will need all the airplanes of both companies. We need all the employees of both companies. We need all the hubs of both airlines.î

The carrier, however, would not keep its Alliance Fort Worth maintenance facility which was initially scheduled to close by the end of the year under Americanís plan. With American planning to renovate its older Boeing 777 and 767 interiors, Alliance may stay open longer, Little said, although he was unclear on how long that may be.

Parker admits that it is asking Americanís unions to sign concessionary agreements but they do not ask for as many employee-related cuts as Americanís current term sheets being considered by the bankruptcy court in the Section 1113 process.

ìIf American Airlines came up to me tomorrow and offered me the same package as US Air, even a sweeter deal, I would still be for this merger,î said Association of Professional Flight Attendants president Laura Glading said. ìItís not really so much whatís in the contract as it is as having a future, getting back that feeling that we had 30, 40 years ago when we first put the uniform one, getting the best airline possible. I firmly believe this opportunity will get us there.î

The Allied Pilots Associationís board of directors met on Monday to discuss Americanís ìbest and final offerî and whether it will send the proposal to its members for a vote.

APA national officer Scott Shankland said he did not know how the board will proceed but reiterated his unionís support for US Airways. ìWeíre committed to this plan, weíve signed agreements,î Shankland said. ìNow the bankrupcty process has a course itís going to follow and as labor groups, we all have to participate in these different tracks that weíre on, but we have partnered with US Air and weíre doing what we can to support that plan and help it come to fruition.î

-Andrea Ahles

Read more here: http://blogs.star-telegram.com/sky_talk/2012/06/american-unions-support-for-us-airways-merger-is-not-a-personal-attack-on-american-ceo-horton.html#storylink=cpy

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