Errant Thoughts On The US Airways and American Airlines Merger



Last week I tweeted on Thursday that I would post an update on the American Airlines/US Airways merger on PlaneBuzz.

But on Friday, after having attended the airlines’ press conference in the Admiral’s Club in Terminal D at Dallas Ft. Worth Airport, and after having pontificated on the PBS Newshour and other media outlets about it all, I came to the conclusion that there really was not a lot more to say that had not already been said.

Or as US Airways Chairman and CEO Doug Parker said at the conclusion of last week’s press conference, “Thank you all for coming today, although I’m not sure why you needed to, as you’ve been reporting everything we announced for weeks.”
For PlaneBusiness Banter subscribers, it’s been more than a year.

Since last week however, there have been a few thoughts that have crossed my mind and I thought I’d take the time to share them with you today.

1. I don’t have a problem with American Chairman and CEO Tom Horton’s $20 million “heave-ho” package. We’ve seen other CEOs in this industry walk away with a heck of a lot more. The most obvious example would be former United Airlines Chairman and CEO Glenn Tilton. Then again, former US Airways‘ Chairman and CEO Stephen Wolf and President Rakesh Gangwal had to back up a Brinks truck to haul their “bye bye” packages away.

2. I do have a problem with Tom Horton staying through the first AMR board meeting in 2014. That’s too long. He needs to leave the building as soon as the deal closes. I’ve heard too many less-than-positive things connected to the recent “overstay” of Glenn Tilton at United Airlines. Tom needs to take his $20 million and go.

3. American Airlines’ employees need to stop trying to figure out what the new regime will or will not do. The first agenda for Doug Parker is to put together the management team that will lead the new airline. After that, this group will begin to put together the complete roadmap in terms of the transition process. Until then anything and everything else is pure speculation. Period.

4. But by far, the biggest question I have been asked following last week’s activities is the same one that was asked by JP Morgan’s debt analyst Mark Streeter on the analyst call that was held prior to the press conference last Thursday. And the question was asked in the press conference as well. That question involves whether or not the folks from Tempe plan to do anything about the “new” American livery.

While you aren’t going to hear Doug Parker or Scott Kirby say so anytime soon — it is my belief the new livery is a dead duck. It is going to go away.

Then again, because it is such a shining testament to the arrogance, tone deafness, and inept management ability of the current management team at American Airlines, maybe it needs to stay around awhile.

By the way, yes, I did get to see the new livery in person last week at the press conference. The Boeing 777-300 in the new livery was parked outside the Admiral’s Club on the concrete. Verdict: It’s worse in person. It is as bad as everyone has told me who had already seen it in person. The grey is flat and dull. It is not silvery. Then there is that tail.

Put it all together and you get an Army transport plane with a cockatiel tail thrown on the rear end. The US Airways’ aircraft sitting next to it on the concrete looked positively stately and elegant by comparison.

I’ll be talking more about the livery issue in this week’s issue of PlaneBusiness Banter. And why we aren’t going to hear much from Tempe on the subject any time soon.

Then again, we haven’t even started on the rumors American wants to roll out grey uniforms for its pilots. Would make sense. Would go right along with the Greyhound-ish logo that is supposed to represent an Eagle. So that makes perfect sense to me.


Until then — Happy Presidents’ Day everyone! Tomorrow it’s back to work for us as we return to the Worldwide Headquarters. May you all enjoy the rest of your Monday!