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US Airways CEO Pushes Case for American Airlines Combination

By Ely Portillo
elyportillo@charlotteobserver.com

CEO Doug Parker used US Airways’ annual shareholder meeting in New York City to forcefully make the case for acquiring American Airlines, which has so far been publicly resistant to overtures as it works its way through bankruptcy court.

US Airways has been informed that the process to formally consider a merger or acquisition will begin after a federal judge rules on whether American can void its labor contracts to cut costs, Parker said. That ruling is expected to come as early as next Friday.

Earlier this week, American CEO Tom Horton said the company is “not focused on a merger” and plans to exit bankruptcy as a standalone company. Parker derided that plan Thursday.

“They can’t fix this,” he said of American’s slip from the country’s No. 1 to No. 3 airline. “This is a structural weakness that bankruptcy can’t fix.” He also said American’s plans to expand and grow its network don’t make sense. “They’ve announced an intention to grow in the markets where they’re the weakest, not the strongest,” he said.

Any changes at US Airways could have a big impact in Charlotte, which is the Tempe, Ariz.-based carrier’s busiest hub. US Airways operates almost 90 percent of the more than 700 daily flights at Charlotte Douglas International Airport. The company also has about 7,000 employees based in Charlotte.

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US Airways Pilots Back Merger But Question Merger Contract

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (TheStreet) -- US Airways intends to offer its pilots a new contract with substantial pay raises, seven years after they signed a concessionary contract in bankruptcy. But pilots are concerned that, in some ways, the new contract is inferior to the one they have now.

The airline said the value of the pay raises dwarfs any objections pilots may have to minor contract changes.

The U.S. Airline Pilots Association, which represents the 4,300 US Airways pilots, is in an uncomfortable position. US Airways, seeking a merger with bankrupt American, has already reached a tentative contract agreement with the Allied Pilots Association, which represents 8,000 American pilots. That contract would also apply to the US Airways pilots, who say they neither want to stand in the way of a merger nor to be shortchanged by one.

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US Airways Makes Push for Potential Merger

By SUSAN CAREY
Wall Street Journal

US Airways Group Inc., LCC +0.98% which is stalking American Airlines parent AMR Corp. in the hopes of merging the two carriers as the way to bring AMR out of bankruptcy-court protection, already has won the support of American's three big unions, and says it trying to line up additional backing from other members of AMR's creditors committee.

But the Tempe, Ariz., company also is wooing its own employees as part of its attempt to do an end-run around a resistant AMR management team. Doug Parker, US Airways' chief executive, visited Charlotte, N.C., earlier this week to meet with leaders of the US Airline Pilots Association, the union that represents his 4,200 pilots, and the Association of Flight Attendants, bargaining agent for 6,700 US Airways attendants.

According to the pilots union, Mr. Parker made a detailed presentation that laid out the business case for why a combination would help American overcome network deficiencies now that it faces larger rivals—United Continental Holdings Inc. UAL -1.14% and Delta Air Lines Inc. DAL -1.63% —that expanded through mergers of their own. The presentation didn't contain any potential terms of a merger deal, such as whether it would be a stock swap, what the allocation of shares would be and whether outside equity would need to be raised, the union said.

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US Airways, American Airlines Pilots Unions Meet in Charlotte

Groups hope to work together for contract if a merger happens

By Ely Portillo
Charlotte Observer

The unions representing US Airways and American Airlines pilots will seek to negotiate together for a joint contract as the airlines move closer to a possible merger, officials from both unions said Monday in Charlotte.

The president of the Allied Pilots Association, Capt. Dave Bates, visited Charlotte to talk to members of the U.S. Airline Pilots Association. He answered questions about job security, pay rates, and other contractual issues from about 50 US Airways pilots at the union’s headquarters on East Woodlawn Road.

Bates rated the odds of a merger “very high.”

Capt. Gary Hummel, president of Charlotte-based USAPA, said it would be in both unions’ best interest to work together. “We both agreed there’s more value for both our unions if we work together,” said Hummel.

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US Airways' New Pilot Leader Calls Himself a 'Peacemaker'

By Ted Reed
The Street.com

The new president of the US Airways pilots union said he has always been "a peacemaker" and wants to continue that role by moving to end conflict between two factions of pilots and between pilots and the airline.

"Everyone's looking for a bit of a change," said Gary Hummel, a 56-year-old Philadelphia-based Airbus captain, in an interview. "I think the [America West] pilots, as well as the company, are looking forward to having a peacemaker, and my role in life has [often] been that. I've always believed that trust is something you extend, not something you receive."

In the election for leadership of the U.S. Airline Pilots Association, a remarkably high 89.3% of 3,872 eligible pilots voted. Hummel received 63% of the votes for president, besting Eric Ferguson. In races for vice president and executive vice president, pilots affiliated with Hummel won by similar majorities. Stephen Bradford, USAPA's founding president, was elected vice president, while Steve Smyser was elected executive vice president. New three-year terms begin April 18.

Ever since a 2005 merger between US Airways, known as "the east," and America West, pilots have been split by a controversial seniority ruling. Pilots agreed to "final and binding" arbitration, but the ruling seemed to so strongly favor west pilots that east pilots, who had a two-thirds majority, voted to leave the Air Line Pilots Association after 57 years and create a new union. That majority was reflected in the leadership election.

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US Airways Discusses Possible Merger with American Airlines

ABC15.com (KNXV-TV)

PHOENIX - US Airways CEO Doug Parker and other top brass answered questions Wednesday night about the airlines future but gave little comment about the possible merger with American Airlines.

"We've hired some people to assess the situation and that is still going on," said Parker. "It is likely to be going on for some time."

Parker addressed media from around the country at an event at the Musical Instrument Museum in North Phoenix.

American Airlines filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in November.  

Parker reiterated past comments that he believes in the strategy of airline consolidation.

US Airways attempted to merge with Delta back in 2006 but failed without having the support from employees.

James Ray, with the pilots' union USAPA told ABC15 that it is too soon to tell if this merger bid would have the blessings from the labor unions.

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US Airways' Traffic Up Nearly 10% in February

By Jen Wilson
Charlotte Business Journal

US Airways Group Inc. reports a 9.6 percent increase in passenger traffic last month. The carrier had 4.1 million boardings in February, up from 3.8 million a year earlier.

The airline, which operates its largest hub in Charlotte, N.C., flew 4.3 billion revenue-passenger miles last month, up 7.9 percent from a year earlier. It is ranked No. 3 in market share at Tampa International Airport, with 10.6 percent of activity, according to January 2012 data.

The carrier’s passenger-load factor, or the percentage of filled seats, was a record 78.3 percent, up from 76.8 percent a year earlier.

Capacity rose 5.8 percent to more than 5.5 billion available seat miles.

According to preliminary estimates, US Airways’ on-time performance in January was 89.3 percent.

“Mild February weather conditions throughout the country combined with continued outstanding effort from our 32,000 employees resulted in fewer flight cancellations during the month, leading to an all-time record completion factor of 99.7 percent for the company,” says Scott Kirby, US Airways’ president. “Additionally, these results include our best-ever month for on-time performance and four days with zero mainline cancellations.”

US Airways Reports Record January Load Factor

US Airways Group, Inc. (NYSE: LCC) today announced January 2012 traffic results. Mainline revenue passenger miles (RPMs) for the month were 4.6 billion, up 3.8 percent versus January 2011. Mainline capacity was 5.9 billion available seat miles (ASMs), up 3.1 percent versus January 2011. Mainline passenger load factor was a record 78.8 percent for the month of January, up 0.5 points versus January 2011.

US Airways' President Scott Kirby said, "Our January consolidated (mainline and Express) passenger revenue per available seat mile (PRASM) increased approximately 10 percent versus the same period last year. I would like to thank our team of 32,000 employees for continuing to run an outstanding operation. Despite a record load factor and runway construction at our hub in Phoenix for most of the month, our team delivered its best January operational performance in the history of our Company."

For the month of January, US Airways' preliminary on-time performance as reported to the U.S. Department of Transportation was 85.0 percent with a completion factor of 99.2 percent.

Click here for the US Airways Group's traffic results for the month ended January 31, 2012 and 2011, consisting of mainline-operated flights as well as US Airways Express flights operated by wholly owned subsidiaries PSA Airlines and Piedmont Airlines.

SOURCE: US Airways

Deal on FAA Bill Targets Unions, Adds DC Flights

By Bart Jansen, USA TODAY

WASHINGTON -- The Federal Aviation Administration would get a four-year authorization after years of temporary extensions, under a compromise that congressional negotiators announced Tuesday.

The bill calls for $15.9 billion a year for FAA through fiscal year 2015. Lawmakers released only highlights publicly – not the actual legislation – until members of the conference committee have signed it. That was expected before Wednesday. But highlights include:

-- Subsidies for rural airports. The bill authorized $190 million a year through 2015, which reflects $20 million in annual savings. House Republicans worked to reduce subsidies that Senate Democrats defended.

-- Labor rules. The bill sets a new requirement for half the workers in a bargaining unit to petition the National Mediation Board for a vote to certify a union, up from the current 35%.

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