It looks like the merger will be announced officially in the morning. Wall Street Journal has some particulars on it.
And, I think View From The Wing has done a great job of breaking down some of the various components of a merger.
I had the chance to sit down with a good friend of mine who also happens to be very knowledgable about the airline industry. He asked me what I thought about the merger.
I think there’s plenty more thoughts to come, but I do think American and US Airways have a unique opportunity. Delta did a pretty good job of merging its operations with Northwest. United and Continental has been an epic fail.
The technology exists to do this merger right. My friend expressed his belief that Doug Parker knows how to put good people in the right places, and that US Airways has done an awesome job of improving their operations.
I feel like American has some very good people and good practices amongst some of the inefficiencies they suffer from. If Doug Parker is as good at picking people as advertised, then there’s a chance he recognizes some leaders within American. Maya Liebman, who used to run the AAdvantage program, is now in charge of American’s technology push. And, while some of the initiatives that have rolled out during her brief tenure in that role probably got started before she took over those reins, much of what has come about from a technology standpoint has two attributes. It was rolled out effectively and improved my travel experience. That’s the mark of a team and an executive that aren’t willing to launch something unless they believe they have it right.
American and US Airways know what went wrong in the past. They have a ton of time before the merger will be blessed by the relative governing bodies. If they take that time to craft a good plan and retain the right team, they have lots of new planes coming, coupled with the technology advances. And, I truly believe they have a front line staff that cares more than their competitors. Sure, they’re not perfect. But, I find United’s employee base to have way too many people who just aren’t happy in their jobs and their performance shows it in so many areas. I don’t fly Delta a whole lot, but I can’t say I hear my flying contemporaries raving about their outstanding customer service. They do have a better fleet, but American is catching up there.
Strong technology, committed team members, new planes.
It’s a long shot, but I do really believe American could rival United and Delta, becoming not just the largest but the best. United has shown that just being biggest doesn’t earn you the crown of best.
Whether it will happen is anyone’s guess. But, I’ll be hoping…..