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Flyers Vote ‘No’ on American-US Air Merger

Flyers Vote ‘No’ on American-US Air Merger

The merger between American and US Airways is now a lock to secure the necessary regulatory approvals and will probably close by the end of this year.

The merger’s approval last week by the two airlines’ boards was predicated on the deal’s favorable treatment of affected shareholders, creditors, top managers, and unions.

But there’s been nary a nod to another key stakeholder group, the traveling public, which will ultimately play a major role in determining the new company’s financial fortunes.

There have been a few consumer-focused analyses of the merger by the likes of Consumer Traveler, the Business Travel Coalition, and, yes, myself. But the voices of travelers themselves have been mostly unheard.

So, what do flyers think of the merger?

We posed that question in two polls on FlyerTalk, and the responses were overwhelmingly negative.

In one poll, readers were asked for a simple yay or nay response to the merger: “Is an American Airlines/US Airways merger good for the traveling public?” A solid 71.7 percent were against the merger, with just 28.3 percent in favor.

In a second poll, readers were invited to rate the merger on a five-point scale, ranging from highly positive to neutral to highly negative. The results:

  • 3.6% – This is the best of all possible worlds; great idea!
  • 22.3% – This portends a stronger airline, with some changes for all.
  • 24.5% – I am neutral – pros and cons for all.
  • 26.7% – I think this is a somewhat bad idea with some real challenges.
  • 23.0% – I am completely opposed to this merger; terrible idea!

Once again, the naysayers far outdistanced the supporters.

Customer Matters Matter

Travelers’ opinions, whether pro or con, so far have proven to be irrelevant as far as the merger’s progress and prospects go. And they will continue to be. The Department of Justice’s review will focus almost exclusively on the tie-up’s impact on competition in jointly served markets. The effects on airfare industrywide, service levels, frequent flyer programs and other consumer concerns simply will not be part of the calculation.

The merger will be approved and implemented, no matter what flyers think.

But eventually, consumer sentiment will translate into loyalty and revenue. If the new American hopes to take advantage of its position as the world’s largest airline, it will have to address consumers’ distrust and apprehension. “Big and bad” is not a recipe for financial success.

Much has been made, rightly, of the difficulties posed by integrating the two companies’ very complex operations. Getting passengers onboard, physically and emotionally, is just as important and may prove to be just as challenging.

Reader Reality Check

Do you favor or oppose the merger?


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  • TomF

    “The naysayers far outdistanced the supporters” … um, the naysayers aren’t even a majority. 49.7% oppose,

  • Eric

    “’Big and bad’ is not a recipe for financial success.”

    United is a perfect example of that!

  • Grayson Baker Friend

    “A solid 71.7 percent were against the merger, with just 28.3 percent in favour.”

    Sounds like a majority to me…

  • Eric Westby

    You do both realize there are two different polls referred to in the article, right? :)

  • Lord Kent

    Amazing co-incidence how the figures virtually replecate the 2 Airlines shareholding in the New Venture. However if you ignor the Neutrals its actually 2 to 1 against.

  • DV

    If this goes through, then I definitely WON’T fly that airline. This would mean higher ticket prices for the public and more management control.

  • Jennifer Sawyer

    Well I’m not crazy about AA and US airways is expensive so add those two and it makes me not very amused. I think the price will be higher but the service will not be the same.

  • disqus_VmS81OgCz4

    How can anyone really know what will happen? We have to wait and see — and hope for a good outcome.

  • Gene Bickle

    I’d place a little more validity in the second pole since it gives you 5 different possible responses vs the 1st pole which is a simple yes or no. Either way, it wasn’t a clear win for either side.

  • alawrencenyc

    I think if you are a regular AA or USAir passenger (especially an elite), then you’ll keep flying the new airline because it will continue to go where you go when you want to go (one of the biggest reasons elites fly with an airline). Without consolidation, the US airline market is doomed to bankruptcies, crummy old planes and bad service – the European market, particularly up to 4 or 5 years ago, is a great example of that. So rather than moaning about whether this is good or bad, and debating the validity of the polls, write your carrier, speak to the employees with whom you have regular contact, and let them know what you want from the new airline. If you flew United during the merger with Continental, speak of that. If you feel that AA’s current AAdvantage program should be the new airline’s frequent flyer program, tell management that. Let’s use our voices as a force to improve this new airline because, like it or not, it is coming.

  • Roberta

    I vote an enthusiastic yes on the merger. AA and US have been my primary airlines over the years due to my home base and primary destinations. I’ve always preferred AA, though over the past few years, I’ve seen US become stronger. Having been through – and even led some of – eight corporate mergers, this won’t be easy but the new American can emerge stronger and better if leadership does it right. And I will be there, flying with them and watching.

  • dsliesse

    I think the end result will depend on whether the combined airline lives up to AA’s standards (maybe not as high as they used to be, but it’s still a professional airline) or down to those of US, which still hasn’t completely resolved its merger with HP after several years.

    Mergers are, for practical purposes, NEVER good for either the customers nor the employees (and, in the case of UA/CO, it’s even worse for retirees, who the new airline would love to have disappear from the face of the planet). The only ones who will benefit are a select few large stockholders.

  • BMG4ME

    They obviously didn’t poll frequent flyers of American, many of whom (like me) think it’s a great idea.

  • John Edward

    These two are the worst of the whole bunch, what difference does it make. Grey water and black water is still undrinkable.

  • thetravelanalyst

    I generally agree. I think the end result depends on (i) how well the airlines effect the merger, and (ii) to a lesser extent, the success of the marketing department in making us feel okay about the merger. The fact that consumers have been left ouf of the DOJ conversation is unfortunate, but par for the course.