As a USAirways employee I can share my opinion based on direct observations from over 20 years, originally with Piedmont and our current Company. Commuting to work to fly a trip is a challenge. Many of us who proudly fly as pilots and flight attendants attempt to be positive, energetic and professional during two pay cuts (and several work rule changes in as many years) totaling around 15%....and now we face the reported ADDITIONAL 25% reduction and layoffs for all divisions along with a sale of assests.
Our future may include a division of an airline partnered with Virgin...it may not. We expect to see the sale of aircraft, slots and real estate while our current management (in a long line of earlier, self professed experts) continue to vacillate and modify "the business plan" without any clear vision. Yesterday we are told that a "killer" is on the way and that management could not have possibly predicted the "rapid growth of the low cost carriers", with similar threats of "Surrender Dorothy" the wicked witch of the "SouthWEST" is almost here. The recent experience of bankruptcy was about as enjoyable as a root canal...and now..we here that we might be there again, because our cost per mile of .10 must be reduced to .06 to reflect the changes in the rules of the game.
Many of us find it ironic that four years ago, in large road shows around the system attended by thousands of employees, management expressed their concern of the "rapid growth of low cost airlines"....and now we hear that it was impossible to predict that the rules would change and that the customer would dictate the price driven factor. With the downturn of the post 9/11 travel climate and the reduction in flying that resulted in retiring the older, higher cost DC-9, MD
-80, F-28, F-100, 727, 737-200 and the associated furloughs we realized the need for reducing costs even further.
Our former, old school, subsidized concentration in northeast and the unrealistic philosophy of operating a pieced together company made of several contrasting airline cultures has not been the happiest of "blended families," yet, somehow it worked because of the dedication of the many honest, true and hardworking employees. Many of us continue to come to work we enjoy even after the stress of reduced wages, bankruptcy and more days away from home, to ensure that our traveling public enjoys a safe and comfortable flight with a friendly crew who appreciates your business.
USAirways has always been a cousin of the "Big Three", we have struggled through many years of mismanagement, bad luck, unsuccessful "re-invention", a loss of focus, a lack of marketing and a realistic business plan. At the same time we have consistently won several national and international awards especially in the last few years for Customer Service, On-Time Performance, Customer Satisfaction and we are proud of those accomplishments. Still, it is not enough. We will never be a major force and alone, we will not make it as a stand alone carrier in the current climate. We will be absorbed, sold-off in parts and parcels or reduced to a big regional.
The employee group is now asked to do their part, once again, for the third time, to "give back" to save the Company....and now we are told to agree to a total, probable, 30-40% in wage reductions. There is a limit and a point when one must say, "no more", yet we have children in college, parents to aid and many years devoted to our careers to consider. We, as you, expect a "quality of life" to enjoy on our reduced days off. We continue to nurture and cultivate our talents, interests and part-time jobs in balance with our hope of the survival of our airline. Time will tell and I trust we will be around in part, or in total for some years to come.