US Airways and America West merged in late 2005. It was just on the heels of America West coming out of a four year bankruptcy and US Airways, at the time, was in the midst of bankruptcy proceedings. It sounded like a match made in heaven – two bankrupt airlines merging to make one big bankrupt airline.
All joking aside, it’s been over five years now and the flight attendants from the two pre-merger airlines still work under separate contracts. In fact, the National Mediation Board has only this month started contract negotiations for the two parties, the first time since the merger.
The pilots are in a similar situation still struggling to determine merged seniority in the combined airline. This issue, combined with pre-9/11 wages, leads to the possibility of a work disruption as the pilots fight back.
We’ve spoken in the past on the Upgrd Podcast that in our opinion it might not be a bad idea for US Airways to split into two. The America West (“West”) planes, crews, and pricing model never did mesh well with US Airways (“East”) full service model. It’s difficult to understand how they can “have their cake and eat it too” by offering low fares and yet first class. Obviously this manifests itself in a poor soft product where first class is reduced to simply a bigger seat on many domestic flights. You certainly don’t see the meal offerings on US Airways that you would see on American or United.
I mention all of this due to one of the latest rumors (or at least the one I heard) that US Airways “East” may be sold to Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway investment group, while “West” might be sold and operated by Frontier (owned by Republic).
This is probably a left over April fool’s joke, but I think it actually makes sense. I don’t believe US can be a low cost and low fare carrier while maintaining their full service legacy status. Especially in light of Southwest’s move into some of their strongholds like Laguardia and Charlotte. The two groups have not been able to merge contracts in this amount of time, which makes it doubtful that it will happen in the near future. By splitting up, the two airlines are able to work to their strengths and perhaps will allow some consolidation in the industry.