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6 Key Items to Watch in the US Airways/AMR Merger

Tickers in this article: AAMRQ.PK DAL HA LCC UAL

Paint Schemes

Soon after the 2005 merger, Parker embraced the US Airways merger heritage that included strong allegiances to predecessor airlines Allegheny, Piedmont and PSA, as well as to America West. Each got its livery honored on a narrowbody Airbus aircraft.

Will these predecessors now get their colors on American airplanes? How about American acquisitions AirCal, Reno and TWA? And will US Airways keep the paint scheme that American just unveiled? Mann says that is likely. "These guys certainly aren't going to spend millions of dollars" to develop another paint scheme, he said. "That's not what they do."

Technology Glitches

If precedent is any indication, we should worry about a computer glitch when US Airways and American seek to merge their technology systems.

On March 4, 2007, US Airways and America West merged computer systems, leading to months of disruptions that led to poor operational performance statistics for the full year. United has also experienced similar service disruptions related to the merger of its computer system with Continental's.

The question will be: How much did US Airways learn from the mistakes it made the first time?

Pilot Seniority

A 2005 seniority ruling turned out to be unacceptable to pilots from US Airways because hundreds of former America West pilots were given higher seniority ranking than US Airways pilots with many more years at the airline.

The ruling, which continues to separate the two pilot groups, had been viewed by some as a barrier to getting a merger done. This argument appears to have been vastly overstated.

The two pilot unions believe the problem can be mitigated because the merger brings another chance at seniority integration, this time with different rules. But most America West pilots believe that one trip through binding arbitration is sufficient. They say they will return to the courts for a decision if the ruling is overlooked.

-- Written by Ted Reed in Charlotte, N.C.

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