This is from James C. Little, International President of the Transport Workers Union; Capt. David Bates, President of the Allied Pilots Association; and Laura Glading, President of the Association of Professional Flight Attendants.
As leaders of American Airlines’ unions — the Allied Pilots Association, the Association of Professional Flight Attendants and the Transport Workers Union — it’s our responsibility to further the interests of our respective memberships while working to restore the airline to profitability and viability. This mandate took on unprecedented importance when American filed for bankruptcy last November.
We knew that the bankruptcy filing would be hard on American’s employees, including our members. When a company files for bankruptcy, jobs are threatened, salaries and wages are cut and workers furloughed. Our worst fears were confirmed when management announced its intention to cut costs by $2 billion and lay off up to 14,000 employees. All this in pursuit of the same strategy that created American’s bankruptcy in the first place.
In addition to the draconian cuts, management willingness to double down on this flawed strategy and unimaginative business plan was a significant disappointment to us — and the 55,000 employees we represent. We clearly needed to play a much more active role in our company’s restructuring if American was going to have any chance of regaining its place as one of the nation’s most respected flagship airlines.
We were encouraged by American’s announcement last week that it is evaluating merger options. Securing a fair process to evaluate strategic alternatives has long been a goal of ours.
We have already conducted a careful analysis of the options available to American, with considerable input from independent financial and legal advisers. We have each concluded that a merger with US Airways would be the best outcome of the restructuring process. We were pleased to discover that we could provide our members with a plan that would save not only a significant number of jobs but also the airline we love.
We cemented our commitment to this merger by signing conditional labor agreements in April, and by advocating for it since.
Anyone who compares American’s strategy with that of US Airways can see that the benefits of a merger dramatically outweigh those of a stand-alone plan. Our agreements with US Airways would allow employees of both airlines to have improved job security, advancement opportunities and compensation and benefits — all while preserving thousands of jobs versus American’s stand-alone plan. The combination would create a carrier with the network that can compete aggressively against other airlines — making the entire industry healthier and more stable. Combining the two carriers would also result in a greater recovery by American’s creditors in the Chapter 11 restructuring.
What makes this deal so right — not just for employees and creditors but for air travelers and all U.S. citizens? Combining with US Airways would answer the fundamental challenge facing American today: the lack of a comprehensive network that can attract and support different kinds of travelers — from those visiting relatives to corporate frequent fliers. Consumers are sophisticated and know what they want — and as long as American can’t give them the destinations and flexibility they need, they won’t fly it.
In the coming months, we plan on continuing to advance the goal of a combination with US Airways and encourage American’s management to see what is apparent to so many others — including Wall Street analysts and industry participants. We have always wanted to do the best for our members — and our airline.
Our analysis of American’s options has yielded a clear victor. We hope that American’s management conducts a similar analysis — and thoroughly considers any plan that could result in a stronger airline than the one they are piloting today.