As a Piedmont employee (exusair, who's the dispatcher? I've probably talked to them), I have a very vested interest in this little topic. Everyone at my station has duly noted that the job guarantee for all US Airways employees announced when the merger was first introduced made no mention of any similar guarantee for the Express carriers, not even the wholly-owneds. As a result, we've all been waiting for the hammer to fall, and we think this announcement might be it.
I don't know about the other carriers, but the AFA also represents the Piedmont flight attendants. What worries us is that the AFA, looking out only for the flight attendants, might say that it sounds like a good deal to them letting the Express FA's get paid the same amount as the mainliners. In fact, Piedmont's flight attendants are threatening to strike specifically because they DON'T get paid the same rate as US's mainline FA's do. So they deny the request, saying that the Express FAs deserve that extra pay, and United management responds the only way it can, selling off the airlines.
At that point, our station is split on what would happen. The pessimistic ones see Kohflot's option number 2 as the most likely solution. The REALLY pessimistic ones see us becoming AirTran Express. I see something more like option 3. You get out of the AFA contract snag, and you're left with Piedmont/Allegheny executives who are still loyal to Mama United, and probably more than a bit thankful that they didn't get sold off to Midway or something.
The concern that looms larger for us though is this: At my airport, we have US Airways, United, and that Atlanta-based outfit that fancies itself an airline. US Airways and United are both exclusively Express-based; Piedmont for us, ACA for United. Post-merger, how do you handle this station? Piedmont is your wholly-owned (maybe) carrier, and you have more control over it. ACA, however, has the contract. Who stays, who goes? If they break it down station by station, we have ACA beat. We have more staff, more experience working more flights, etc. But if they make a blanket decision, one that says, "In the case where ACA and Piedmont both operate a station in an airport, ACA will retain control," well... that would bite a bit.
I sleep okay at night... but Piedmont recently took over the Express operation in the CLT hub, and I'm thinking of transfering there. Over the long haul, I might have better job security if I do.