US Airways, AA merger makes big promises

Credit: AFP/Getty Images

A US Airways tail rest on the tarmac near two American Airlines planes at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in Arlington, Virginia on April 23, 2012. American Airlines heads to federal court on April 23, 2012 to convince a bankruptcy judge that to survive, it must break labor agreements that workers fought decades to win. The airline lost more than $10 billion USD in the decade leading up to its declaration of bankruptcy last November. During that same period most of its major rivals used the bankruptcy process to cut wages and benefits, which American says has left it saddled with higher labor costs. US Airways has won the support of unions at the bankrupt American Airlines for a proposal to fold the two companies into one giant carrier, US Airways CEO Doug Parker said on April 20, 2012. AFP PHOTO/Jim Watson (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)


by TONY BURBECK / NBC Charlotte

Bio | Email | Follow: @TonyWCNC

Posted on February 14, 2013 at 7:25 PM

Updated Thursday, Feb 14 at 9:41 PM

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The US Airways, American Airlines merger announcement comes with a lot of promise and a lot of work still to be done.

"We will be delivering the most value for our owners and the greatest benefits to our customers and our people," said American Airlines CEO Tom Horton during Thursday's announcement.

Shortly after that announcement ended, another began on a video of US Airways flight attendants urging union members to approve a tentative agreement with  the airline as the merger moves forward.

"Our last chance to lock in the benefits for what comes next," a person said on the video.

"Better foothold for a merger."

A new deal for flight attendants means a 13.5% pay increase,  a $1,700 ratification bonus and a $40,000 opt out upon merger close based upon seniority.

Parker says finalizing deals with unions is also on the to-do list, as well as the merged airline reaping $1 billion dollars in  synergy costs per year, starting in 2015.

"We'll be able to offer good jobs and great opportunities in a stronger airline and together we will provide a path for improved compensation and benefits," Parker said.

Still, emails are flowing, urging flight attendants not to vote for a new contract, saying they'd still be the lowest paid in the industry, and be maids as well as flight attendants.

Captain James Ray, a spokesperson for the US Airline Pilots Association who flies for US Airways, says the merger is good for the industry.

"We realized we'll all be better off if we do this deal," Ray said.

US Airways pilots get 15 to 35 percent raises once the deal is done, Ray said.

"It's going to give us long term stability. The next economic downturn, the next time jet fuel gets to five dollars a gallon, we're not going to be concerned about our job."

Officials say American Airline pilots had $90 million dollars in raises and retro pay given to them as a result of the merger announcement.