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US/UA Merger D-Day-Thur 10/12  
User currently offlineRepublic From Canada, joined Dec 2012, 0 posts, RR: 0
Posted (13 years 11 months 1 week 6 days 18 hours ago) and read 1883 times:

This whole UA/US merger deal sure is getting more interesting. Enter Bethune & COmpany, and it's balls to the wall for UA/US/DC. The combined silence by UA/US/DC makes it all the more compelling. What a strategy by CO: 1) break up the merger or 2) get another East Coast strong hold for CO. Dominance at EWR and DCA, that's not a bad hand. The way I see it, CO wins either way.

This Thursday, Oct 12, is the US Airways shareholders meeting where the UA/US merger will be voted on. This whole merger business could end here, or take it to the next step. US is now facing several shareholder lawsuits for undervaluing the proposed DCAir assets. Plus, CO is offering a 50% higher offer, in cash. I haven't read anywhere whether Johnson's offer was in cash or not.

Should be very interesting. Anyone here have any more info or opinions on what is going on?

11 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineVelocityair From United States of America, joined May 2000, 134 posts, RR: 0
Reply 1, posted (13 years 11 months 1 week 6 days 13 hours ago) and read 1736 times:

Stephen Wolf builds airlines to sell them... I would not be surprised if the reason he left UAL to go to US was to make US look attractive to UAL just to be bought. Makes you wonder?

User currently offlineDCA-ROCguy From United States of America, joined Apr 2000, 4506 posts, RR: 33
Reply 2, posted (13 years 11 months 1 week 6 days 13 hours ago) and read 1731 times:

Dear Republic,

What the US Airways board plans to do on Thursday I don't know; but I think Gordon Bethune has fired the fatal shot to bring down the merger. Either US-UA delibrately uphold a poor business deal that cheats shareholders of DCA slot value, or they grant a proven tough competitor market dominance at one of their largest markets. DC Air pretty clearly is a puppet sham intended to keep DCA in UA-US control and UA-US's silence only underlines this fact.

The fact that Bethune made the move indicates, I think, that he's smelled blood in the water and believes that the Great White Reno (Janet that is) is circling. Were the merger likely to be approved, Bethune likely would not have made this offer, and instead concentrated on working on whatever mega-combo--probably with Delta--that Continental would need to keep marketplace heft.

In any case, this merger is completely anti-competitive and should be shot down in flames. It's about concentrating market power in order to better screw medium and small size cities with higher-margin, high fares that are well beyond a just, robust return for shareholders.

Jim K.
Washington, DC



Need a new airline paint scheme? Better call Saul! (Bass that is)
User currently offlineD L X From United States of America, joined May 1999, 11345 posts, RR: 52
Reply 3, posted (13 years 11 months 1 week 6 days 11 hours ago) and read 1708 times:

I would point out that the shareholders will certainly vote yes on the merger. Their shares, currently selling at around $32 will be bought by UA for $60 each. That's a no-brainer for them.

The EU makes its decision on or by Oct. 25. That's more of a deadline than the stockholder's meeting. An EU move to disallow the merger of routes from the US to EU nations could make the deal hard to swallow for the participants themselves.



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User currently offlineAirwaysdc9 From United States of America, joined May 1999, 204 posts, RR: 3
Reply 4, posted (13 years 11 months 1 week 6 days 6 hours ago) and read 1707 times:

Jim K:

I'm certain you'll be quite pleased if/when this merger is blocked by the department of justice.

There are, however, a few things that we need to consider not only on behalf of the employees of US Airways, but also as an economic impact to our region of the United States.

Lets have a quick review. As you have pointed out, US Airways survived on the east coast as Allegheny and USAir by reaping the rewards of extremely high yields. There was, in the past, very little competition at US Airways strongholds such as Rochester - fares were high - and people gladly paid those fares to get where they needed to go. For a long time US Airways made more money per seat mile than virtually any airline in the world. At the same time they grew through mergers and acquisitions....Mohawk, Lake Central, PSA, Piedmont, Empire - by doing so they subjected themselves to multiple employee contracts, and agreed to the highest cost portions of those contracts. Why should they not have done so? After all, they were making money faster than it could be printed.

Fast forward to the present day... US Airways is in trouble. They have one of the highest costs per seat mile of any airline in the world. Jetblue, Southwest, AirTran, and Vanguard are expanding on the east coast ... Continental, American, United, Northwest and especially Delta are throwing regional jets into the US Airways route system as fast as they are coming online. Yields are becoming more and more depressed each day - good for the consumer...bad for US Airways.

Then comes this merger. For a few years now US Airways and its employees have come under attack for high fares, high cost structure....they are the last remaining midsize carrier with a mature cost structure that has not fallen into bankruptsy or simply gone out of business (PanAm, Branniff, Continental). A few years ago USAir was within days of shutting down and, were it not for an infusion of cash from British Airways, would probably be gone. Although US Airways has been profitable for the last few years (how could they not have been during the strongest economic boom time in decades?), the problem remained and as US Airways fought to retain their own route system, other airlines grew. US Airways was strangled by employee contracts that limited expansion of regional jets. Costs continued to climb as yields continued to fall. Good for Rochester...bad for US Airways.

So...now they are faced with this merger. Fantastic! US Airways has an exceptional route system deeply entrenched into the Northeastern United States...if those high costs can be leveraged out throughout a much more vast route structure (UAL), they could be brought back down. After all, it is unlikely that US Airways could embark on long-haul expansion on their own, while still protecting their valuable east coast route structure...and long haul flying is the ONLY thing that can lower costs effectively.

Bud Shuster makes several speaches "plugging" the merger, but carefully warning that without the transaction US Airways may face bankrupsty in the coming years. Mr. Wolf echos those sentiments in Senate hearings. Now...employees are starting to feal a bit of fear... If this thing DOESNT go through, THEN what??? Employees ask management, "Hey! Whats plan B?" And management responds that there IS no plan B...they're singularly focused on getting the merger passed....uh oh...

Ok, so lets say that your dream comes true and the merger fails. Employee moral at US Airways is at an all-time low. We've been told since May that United was our savior...and without the merger, we were warned that we would face bankruptsy. Since the UAL employee contracts included vast pay raises, every other airline matches those pay rates...and US Airways with its "Parity +1" contract matches them as well. Costs soar...and Southwest begins service to Rochester. Yields are further depressed.

US Airways is forced to make some tough decisions. They certainly cant afford to fly the new Airbuses to cities like Rochester....so they delete jet service to upstate New York...Saab 340s and Dash 8's are all that can be found. (after all...even if the pilots agreed to RJ flying for Express now, it would be years before the product could be delivered at the scope required to compete with Continental Express and Comair)

Wolf tries to sell the company again and again, but the DOJ blocks the sale. He tries to sell it in pieces, only to find out that it simply isnt worth much broken up. The shuttle goes to the highest bidder, and what few Atlantic routes remaind dissappear. US Airways falls into a TWA-type funk and begins retrenching protecting what few high-yield markets remain untouched by the low fare carriers and RJs. Rochester is now served by Southwest to over 6 cities! Airfares are at an all time low. US Airways pulls out, but the people of Rochester dont even notice...in fact, since US Airways also pulls out of Ithica, Elmira, and Binghamton, the Rochester Airport gets even MORE customers as businessmen begin to struggle slightly to get where they need to go on the east coast.

In a few more years US Airways has declared bankruptsy. The bankruptsy judge rengotiates employee contracts and that helps some, but dozens of airplanes are returned to their lessors, and several thousand employees are laid off. The loss of jobs in cities such as Pittsburgh and Charlotte begins to have a small effect on the local economies.

If the company is still not bought, and management still is unable to figure a way out of this mess, US Airways might be gone in a few more years. Transportation on the east coast is devistated because the remaining network carriers can not pick up the slack fast enough. They do an adequate job though, and many of the business centers on the east coast retain travel options. Smaller cities that previously had access to the US Airways route system suffer with a complete lack of air service...Johnstown, Altoona, Franklin, Lancaster, Ithaca, Elmira, Erie, Jamestown, Utica....all have very little if any service.

Ultimately 46000 employees are out of work...6176 pilots looking for work in a market which simply doesnt need them...and should they find a job with another major airline, it will be at the bottom of the seniority list...their 10 or 20 years at US Airways amounting to nothing as they return to a probationary pay scale...THANKFUL to even have a job.

How's ol' Rochester doing? Well FINE! After all, Southwest is providing them service to Baltimore, and Nashville, Las Vegas and Pheonix. But DARN is it hard to get to Philly from there...almost impossible to get to LaGuardia...sure, you could take JetBlue to Kennedy...but what a pain. Cant seem to get to Boston...Only place south we can get to is Atlanta...sure wish I could fly into Charlotte.

Look, I dont mean to ramble on. The country obviously survived when Eastern fell. As an employee YES I'm terrified of what will happen if this merger is blocked by the DOJ. I've been a part of this industry long enough to see the writing on the wall. We're a small airline...not particularly powerful. Merging with UAL MIGHT be considered monopolistic, or it might be considered the only way to "save" a company like US Airways - and thereby save its vast east coast route structure. Maybe I'm being selfish...I've gotten used to receiving a paycheck every 2 weeks.

I'm sorry that your airfares in upstate New York are high. The only thing I can assume is that the forces of supply and demand are hard at work. Every flight I fly into Rochester is close to full. But, please dont wish for the demise of my company...and the loss of jobs for myself and my 46,000 coworkers. We need you...and hopefully, you need us.



User currently offlineMdsmith11 From United States of America, joined Jul 1999, 194 posts, RR: 1
Reply 5, posted (13 years 11 months 1 week 6 days 5 hours ago) and read 1693 times:

For Jim K:

As a current UAL employee in MSY and a former US Air Express employee at BWI, I have to say that your're post makes for some compelling reading. I don't know if you have talked with any UAL employees regarding this, but there are alot of issues on our side as well. Personally, I'm hoping to see this go though and being finalized, however Gordon Bethune did figuratively throw a monkey wrench in the gears....I know that I'm placing no bets on how this will turn out.

Mark from UAL @ MSY



User currently offlineD L X From United States of America, joined May 1999, 11345 posts, RR: 52
Reply 6, posted (13 years 11 months 1 week 6 days 2 hours ago) and read 1675 times:

I won't buy the pessimistic view that Wolf and Shuster are trying to portray. Wolf very obviously has a lot to gain by merging US, so you bet he'll paint the bleakest picture possible. I think he's going so far as to cook the books currently to ensure a loss (which will be an incredible turnaround the next quarter after the merger is denied.) Have you noticed the high number of US initiated fare sales this year?

Shuster has less obvious gain from the merger. The largest (which usually implies sturdiest) airline in the world would be supplying plenty-o-jobs in his state. Added to that, passengers from his state would undoubtedly get many more destinations available to them in no or one stop outside of where US currently flies.

However, this is an airline that despite the encroachment of Southwest, has held its yields at the highest in the industry, despite the encroachment of Southwest, has lowered its costs with labor renegotiations, and despite being "on the brink," has made annual profits each of the years that Wolf has been at the helm. (Which is suggesting to me that anyone with moderate talent can make an airline good or bad.) Yet, Wolf, Goodwin, and Shuster are trying their damnedest to portray the idea that this increasingly successful airline is breathing its last breath. Unfortunately, some people have bought that idea.



BTW, I would just note that your argument that competition is eating US's lunch is somewhat misguided. Airtran and Vanguard encroaching on US? Not quite. Airtran was pretty much expelled from US territory. Vanguard itself won't be around next year. Even mighty UA was kept in check with its very weak east coast hub. If US is so weak, why does UA have to buy it in order to get it? Answer: US isn't weak.



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User currently offlineAirwaysdc9 From United States of America, joined May 1999, 204 posts, RR: 3
Reply 7, posted (13 years 11 months 1 week 6 days 2 hours ago) and read 1673 times:

DLX:
You are a valued customer and we appreciate your business, but I believe that if we dont learn from history we're doomed to repeat it.

Quick story:
Two Braniff mechanics were sitting in the observation lounge on a coffee break. Recently the newsmedia had been reporting their impending demise.
The first mechanic asked the second what he thought about all that doom and gloom.
The second replied, "Look out there Frank. Dozens of airplanes...vehicles, equipment. Everything as far as the eye can see is Braniff. We're going to be around forever."
Not long after that they were gone.

DLX, I'm second generation US Airways. I've watched this company for 30+ years. If you DONT believe that yields are being depressed by low-fare carriers (not JUST Southwest) and regional jets...then I truly wish I could see the world through your eyes.

US Airways will not go out of business tomorrow...but unless they drastically change the way they do business (or are merger into another carrier), they may not be here in 5 years to do business at all.

Just a thought from the inside, from a proud employee.


User currently offlineScottB From United States of America, joined Jul 2000, 6762 posts, RR: 32
Reply 8, posted (13 years 11 months 1 week 5 days 22 hours ago) and read 1634 times:

As regards the merger *VOTE* - there's no way in Hell it wil fail. Why? You forget that a single individual - Julian Robertson and his Tiger Management Funds - controls a VERY significant chunk of U's stock, and if the board didn't think he'd vote for the merger, they'd never have even proposed it. He stands to gain a lot from the merger - or lose a lot if the stock drops back to $20/share.

If the merger fails due to regulatory concerns (and I think Bethune and CO really made a brilliant move in pointing out what a sham deal the DCAir thing is...), then USAirways has three major issues to deal with. They are costs, costs, and costs. (Sort of like location, location, location in real estate). Southwest and DL Express will certainly continue to expand on the East Coast, and their fare and cost structures will be an even greater advantage should there be an economic downturn. And it will be quite a challenge for USAirways' management to deal with.

With no merger and no change at USAirways, I don't see the future being very bright. Airways mentions 46,000 employees at the company. Southwest flies 85% as many RPM's and more passengers with 29,000 employees - i.e. 63% as many people. USAirways will still have its fortress hubs at PHL, PIT, CLT, and its substantial operations at DCA, LGA, and BOS. Whether that will be enough to see them throughand make them prosperous, or whether the airline is sold off in chunks or broken up in chunks in a bankruptcy - well only time will tell.


User currently offlineD L X From United States of America, joined May 1999, 11345 posts, RR: 52
Reply 9, posted (13 years 11 months 1 week 5 days 16 hours ago) and read 1603 times:

Two points, in a post that hopefully won't ramble much.

First, it has been reported that perhaps this vote isn't the shoe-in that I and others have suggested. Thank you, Mr. Bethune. Because US/UA have voted no with their silence on a competing bid for DC Air, the stockholders may sue US/UA for not taking the highest bid on a STOCKHOLDER OWNED propert. The BOD of a public company has a fiduciary responsibility to its stockholders. When they make choices that result in provably less compensation for the stockholders, the stockholding body has the right to sue them for the gains that would have been made. (A lawyer on this board can fill any holes or inaccuracies here.) So, either US/UA sells DC to the highest bidder (which they won't do), or the stockholders can sue to block the merger. Or, they can simply vote no now, and force the management to restructure the merger and vote again.


Second, I keep hearing that "if US doesn't change, they won't be around in x years." Hold the phone! Surely, as an employee, passenger, spotter, whatever of US Airways, you have to have noticed a whole lot of change. TV ads, radio ads, Metrojet, Airbuses, removal of the entire F28 guzzlers, retirement of the 727, DC9, and MD80 in progress, more long range flying, fat cutting in the route system, service improvements (while everyone else is getting worse, I might add), new labor contracts bringing those costs in line with the rest of the industry, and a lot more smiles on FA faces. Costs are dropping, and Southwest's are rising. The biggest change I notice besides the obvious change of livery, is that the planes are full. All of these changes were put in place to give US a position in the future. Let's not forget them.


BTW, two last notes: those who think that RJs have lower associated costs should think differently. Fact: larger jets have lower cost per seat than smaller ones. RJs are useful (to an airline that is weak in an area) because they allow right-sizing of a route. Also, why can't US afford to put new Airbuses (with their lower associated costs) on routes to Upstate NY? They fly them to Manchester and Providence to compete with Southwest there...



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User currently offlineDCA-ROCguy From United States of America, joined Apr 2000, 4506 posts, RR: 33
Reply 10, posted (13 years 11 months 1 week 5 days 14 hours ago) and read 1589 times:

Dear All,

Let me try this again....my computer ate half of it the first time. Sorry to bore those who have already read, but it's important to make the accurate version with Airwaysdc9's pull quotes available. Sorry for the error AirwaysDC9, this one should be correct.

Dear Airwaysdc9,

Thank you for writing to me, I'm only some policy wonk on the 'Net and as such realize that you don't need to do that. By the way, you're the only person I've read so far who has traced out the "US Airways needs to merge to survive" scenario in such detail, and such well-informed detail.

As a longtime regular customer of US Airways and lifetime Rochester resident (I go to grad school in DC but am still a legal Rochester resident) it's hard to see a local institution in danger, even if it's one that mistreats Rochester residents and businesses. And yes, the employees matter....as I've said in a number of posts, US Airways employees have been consistently professional, competent, and a pleasure to do business with. What happens to y'all does matter

I'd like to respond to some of your arguments below, and explain why even employees are better off letting the market handle the situation, for employees as well as travelers, and not an anti-competitive merger. In short, the oligopoly mainline carriers cannot be trusted with increased market power, as they have demonstrated conclusively that they will screw medium-size (ROC) and small-size (ITH) markets with it, with unjust high-margin fares.

And as you observe, there is a market for flights from ROC to LGA, BOS, PHL, etc. Someone will fly them. As a matter of fact, every time someone HAS flown them, Allegheny/ US Air/ US Airways has bought them out! And give the fluidity of the regional airline system--for instance American's gulp of Business express and Atlantic Coast's new ACJet subsidiary---the regional jets can get around without anti-competitive mergers. ACJet Dornier jets are flying ROC-LGA as we speak.

ADC9: So...now they are faced with this merger. Fantastic! US Airways has an exceptional route system deeply entrenched into the Northeastern United States...if those high costs can be leveraged out throughout a much more vast route structure (UAL), they could be brought back down. After all, it is unlikely that US Airways could embark on long-haul expansion on their own, while still protecting their valuable east coast route structure...and long haul flying is the ONLY thing that can lower costs effectively.

J: How does UA "leverage US costs?" US employees are not going to want to lose your current work rules (you'll know better, but I have the impression that it's work rules more than salaries that drive US's costs so high) and that alone could sink the merger. And if UA keeps US employees' current contracts, the UA employees are not going to be happy about it. And the UA pilots just broke management in their summertime standoff, so it is not clear to me at all that a merger would "leverage" US labor costs.

ADC9: Bud Shuster makes several speaches "plugging" the merger, but carefully warning that without the transaction US Airways may face bankrupsty in the coming years. Mr. Wolf echos those sentiments in Senate hearings. Now...employees are starting to feal a bit of fear... If this thing DOESNT go through, THEN what??? Employees ask management, "Hey! Whats plan B?" And management responds that there IS no plan B...they're singularly focused on getting the merger passed....uh oh

J: Plan B, as throughout American history, is that US employees go work for CO, DL, and WN--whose pay and union involvement is in line with the rest of the industry, they just have firmer work rules. People want to fly, and if the product is there at a reasonable cost, they will. US employees will have new jobs on different-colored airplanes. But I for one trust market forces more than anti-market buyouts that would make a Big Three who could crush WN, AT, JB, etc, and leave us back where ROC, BUF et al were in 1995. Which is not acceptable.

ADC9: US Airways is forced to make some tough decisions. They certainly cant afford to fly the new Airbuses to cities like Rochester....so they delete jet service to upstate New York...Saab 340s and Dash 8's are all that can be found. (after all...even if the pilots agreed to RJ flying for Express now, it would be years before the product could be delivered at the scope required to compete with Continental Express and Comair) >>

J: Continental and Delta, sensing competitive advantage, would fly more RJs into Rochester than they do now. They have the delivery slots at Canadair and Embraer. And if WN and JB keep driving fares down, some of those RJs become 737s. Maybe you might be working on one of them.

ADC9: Rochester is now served by Southwest to over 6 cities! Airfares are at an all time low. US Airways pulls out, but the people of Rochester dont even notice...in fact, since US Airways also pulls out of Ithica, Elmira, and Binghamton, the Rochester Airport gets even MORE customers as businessmen begin to struggle slightly to get where they need to go on the east coast. >>

By this time, a new commuter operation, a New Mohawk (from the ashes of the victim of the Allegheny/ US Air pocketbook) would arise. And CO, DL, AA etc would see a big opportunity. US obviously had some people flying from ITH, BGM, etc, and the other majors would want them. These carriers have orders in at the regional manufacturers.

ADC9: In a few more years US Airways has declared bankruptsy. The bankruptsy judge rengotiates employee contracts and that helps some, but dozens of airplanes are returned to their lessors, and several thousand employees are laid off. The loss of jobs in cities such as Pittsburgh and Charlotte begins to have a small effect on the local economies. >>

And the planes, and employees, are flying for other airlines, maybe based in other cities yes, but maybe right there in PIT and CLT, who knows. Americans still want to fly, and someone to fly them. We just demand that these flights be at *reasonable* fares not rapine fares. Please forgive the harsh language, but after shelling out around $230 to $250 for years on a route that shouldn't cost me more than $150 tops--and businessmen on the moment pay $500 to $1000 for--I'm not very happy with US Airways.

ADC9: Ultimately 46000 employees are out of work...6176 pilots looking for work in a market which simply doesnt need them...and should they find a job with another major airline, it will be at the bottom of the seniority list...their 10 or 20 years at US Airways amounting to nothing as they return to a probationary pay scale...THANKFUL to even have a job. >>

J: A market which doesn't need them? United's work problems this summer were ultimately about a shortage of pilots! Almost every issue of Aviation Week I read has some reference to a need for pilots. They are needed at a just wage that compensates them and does not gouge consumers, but they are needed. And all those planes they'd fly need FA's, mechanics, ground crew, etc....

ADC9: How's ol' Rochester doing? Well FINE! After all, Southwest is providing them service to Baltimore, and Nashville, Las Vegas and Pheonix. But DARN is it hard to get to Philly from there...almost impossible to get to LaGuardia...sure, you could take JetBlue to Kennedy...but what a pain. Cant seem to get to Boston...Only place south we can get to is Atlanta...sure wish I could fly into Charlotte.

J: Continental would be flying me to LGA, American Eagle RJ to BOS (where they are building up), and Delta RJ would be flying me to Philadelphia. I'd have to make a connection at Dulles on United RJ to get to Charlotte, but that's fine because US offers one measly nonstop from ROC to CLT today anyway. And you'd be working for one of those carriers, not worried about your job

ADC9: I'm sorry that your airfares in upstate New York are high. The only thing I can assume is that the forces of supply and demand are hard at work. Every flight I fly into Rochester is close to full. But, please dont wish for the demise of my company...and the loss of jobs for myself and my 46,000 coworkers. We need you...and hopefully, you need us.

J: Airwaysdc9, Rochester DOES need you. But you'll still be able to serve us, you'll get a paycheck every two weeks, and I will still have the pleasure of doing business with you, on a different airline. One that doesn't have the cost structure from amalgamated regionals whose high expenses and fares reflected the market conditions of the 1950s to early 1980's.

But Rochester does NOT need a Big Three American, United and Delta whose pocketbooks would be so deep that they could consider crushing even Southwest, let alone AirTran and JetBlue. Big Air has demonstrated so conclusively that they abuse their power when nobody's in town to hold them accountable, that they simply are not to be granted any more power.

Sorry, but that's what happens when people like Steve Wolf and Jim Goodwin think $123 million golden parachutes, and unions think "industry leading" contracts with still-loose work rules, are what airlines should have. The business goes elsewhere...as am I, on Southwest BWI-BUF for my trip home for Thanksgiving. I hope to do business with US again soon, at a reasonable less-than-$200 fare DCA-ROC. But that's up to Wolf, and to y'all who work for him

Sincerely,
Jim K.





Need a new airline paint scheme? Better call Saul! (Bass that is)
User currently offlineRepublic From Canada, joined Dec 2012, 0 posts, RR: 0
Reply 11, posted (13 years 11 months 1 week 4 days 7 hours ago) and read 1557 times:

Follow this link for an update:

http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/printedition/article/0,2669,SAV-0010130238,FF.html

The proposed merger between UA/US is a business merger. To cast it into being something else, "something different", smells of political gamesmanship and should be called for what it is. Just my opinion.


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