- The Washington Times - Friday, May 20, 2005

Executives of US Airways and America West cautioned employees yesterday that some of their jobs are not secure as the merging companies integrate into a single airline over the next two to three years.

“For employees in work groups represented by unions, the question of what will happen to your jobs is even harder for us to answer because so much of what will happen is outside management’s control,” the chief executive officers of the two airlines said in a “joint statement of labor principles” obtained by The Washington Times.

US Airways and America West announced a deal Thursday that would make the merged company the nation’s fifth-biggest airline with $10 billion in annual revenue.

Together, they employ 44,100 workers. US Airways employs 30,100 and America West employs 14,000.

The two airlines said they would try to minimize disruptions for employees and customers as they integrate into a single airline over the next several years.

“While seniority integration will be a challenge for us and our employees, we will ensure that those issues are discussed and resolved in a fair and equitable manner,” said Doug Parker, America West chief executive officer. He will be the CEO of the combined company, to be called US Airways.

However, he also has said about 5,000 employees, or 11 percent of the combined work force, may lose their jobs.

The deal, which spared US Airways from liquidation, still must be approved by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, justice and transportation departments, and America West shareholders.

In their joint statement, Mr. In their joint statement, Mr. Parker and US Airways Chief Executive Bruce Lakefield said they would try to avoid “stapling” of employees, which means giving job priority to employees of one airline over the other.

US Airways, which has operated for 66 years, tends to have more long-term employees than America West, which has operated for 22 years.

“We expect our unions will recognize a solution that simply staples all employees of one airline to the bottom of the other’s seniority list as unacceptable and unconscionable,” the joint statement said.

“Therefore, some type of proportional integration would seem reasonable.”

In 2001, during the industry’s last major merger between American Airlines and Trans World Airlines, many TWA employees were “stapled” to the bottom of American Airlines’ seniority list.

As a result, a disproportionate number of TWA employees lost their jobs, impairing a smooth integration of the airlines.

The union for US Airways’ pilots said they hoped the $7 billion in labor contract concessions they made to keep US Airways afloat financially during its two bankruptcies since 2002 would be taken into consideration as the companies consolidate employees and operations.

“We expect that our sacrifices will be respected as we welcome the opportunity to become a partner in the creation of this country’s premier low-cost airline,” said Bill Pollock, chairman of the Air Line Pilots Association.

The union represents 2,928 US Airways pilots.

About 2,000 US Airways employees work in the Washington-Baltimore area, which includes 600 at the company’s Arlington headquarters, about 1,200 at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, 29 at Washington Dulles International Airport and 150 at Baltimore-Washington International Airport.

US Airways plans to move its headquarters to America West’s home in Tempe, Ariz., which Mr.Parker said Thursday was for economic reasons.

An unknown number of administrative workers are expected to be offered jobs in Tempe or to be laid off.

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