American Set to Clear Flight, Crew Merger Integration HurdleBy
Flight operating systems of both carriers to combine Oct. 1
Airline says shift should be invisible to passengers
American Airlines is poised to clear one of the final major hurdles in the integration of US Airways on Oct. 1 when it meshes the flight operating systems of both carriers in a move that travelers shouldn’t notice.
The change will unify 15,000 American, US Airways and America West pilots into one workforce and remove barriers that tied them to each company’s planes, flights and crew bases. The airline has trimmed the flight schedule for the day to decrease the impact of any issues that may come up, said Maya Leibman, American Airlines Group Inc.’s chief information officer.
Switching to one system will enable Fort Worth, Texas-based American to eliminate duplicate operations for scheduling pilots and equipment and provide new flexibility to recover from disruptions caused by weather or other events. Leibman, speaking on a conference call, couldn’t say how much the simplification will save the airline.
“We are absolutely committed to getting it right,” she said. “It represents another linchpin in building one airline for our customers and employees and getting the benefit for that.”
The change will give pilots from the three carriers -- US Airways merged with America West in 2005 -- the ability to fly any aircraft they qualify for and bid for routes out of any of the 11 bases in the American system. It also will unite the workers under a single labor contract. The airline still has to make a similar shift for flight attendants.
The Allied Pilots Association, the union representing the aviators, has criticized American’s plan for “flipping the switch” to integrate the systems in one day.
“For the sake of our pilots and other front-line employees and most importantly for our passengers, we hope the transition goes smoothly,” Dennis Tajer, a union spokesman, said in an e-mail. “To that end, APA will operate a phone bank of pilot volunteers to assist pilots flying the line as the airline merges three complex computer systems into one.”