Real Answers from Real Pilots

When airlines merge together

(Tom) #1

Airlines can eventually go out of business, while others merge with another to stay afloat like U.S Airways with American, or Continental with United.

I was wondering what this means for employees of the weaker airline particularly the Pilots. Does it lead to a good outcome where they are able to stay flying under a new name, or can it lead to a lot of furloughs for the Pilots?



An airline failing and two airlines merging are two very different scenarios. When an airline fails the pilots are laid off with the rest of the work force. Those pilots can use their experience and qualifications to go apply for new jobs, but they will be at the bottom of the seniority list of any airline that hires them.

When airlines merge the pilot seniority lists are blended in a way that is fair to each pilot group. There is no one set way of doing this as each airline is unique and brings different things to a merger, so typically a panel of three independent arbitrators will come up with a fair method if integration. I went through this as A Continental pilot when we merged with United. For me and for the rest of the pilot group the merger has been a great thing, it has opened a lot of new opportunities for us and the combined company is a lot healthier than the two independent ones were.




As Chris said there is no hard fast rule. As far as the merger’s go pilot’s can be very “territorial” when it comes to their own flag. I remember after the Delta/NorthWest merge I ran into some NW guys who were REALLY upset and said they had gotten “screwed” after the merger. When I asked how, (they were actually get paid more and had a better contract) they said they now were called Delta and had to wear Delta uniforms? When I was first hired at ExpressJet we were literally the top of the food chain. But after we lost some flying to other less expensive carriers and some other unsuccessful business decisions guys found themselves on the street and I was downgraded. Thing is you really have no control over it so there’s really nothing to worry about. While I love my job I never forget that virtually every Major airline that was around when I was a kid is now gone.