Friday, April 09, 2010

United Pilots: Merger Chatter Not Serious
By Ted Reed 04/09/10 - 03:33 PM EDT

CHICAGO (TheStreet) -- The head of the pilots union at United says chatter about merger talks between United Airlines(UAUA) and US Airways(LCC) is vastly overstated.

"Presently, there are no meaningful merger discussions with US Airways," wrote Wendy Morse, chairman of the United chapter of the Air Line Pilots Association, in a message to United pilots on Wednesday. "The United master executive council has confirmed that the report is speculation," Morse wrote, referring to a New York Times article that said the two carriers "are deep" in merger discussions.

The union, Morse went on to say, "vehemently [opposes] any merger that would not lead to a stronger and more viable United Airlines."

On Thursday, in a press release, Morse shifted her focus to say that it would be difficult to merge with US Airways because of the seniority battle that continues to divide the airline's pilots nearly five years after the 2005 merger between US Airways and America West.

She said media reports about the merger had "caused a great deal of consternation among the pilots I represent" and added that United pilots "are not opposed to any merger that would benefit the careers and the long-term future of United pilots.

"A merger with US Airways does not appear to come close to meeting that standard," she wrote.
Stock in US Airways began the week at $7.32. Shares climbed as high as $7.87 on Thursday. On Friday, US Airways shares lost 23 cents to close at $7.32.
Meanwhile, stock in United began the week at $19.63. On Friday, shares reached a high of $20.55 before closing at $20.50, up 27 cents.
-- Written by Ted Reed in Charlotte, N.C.

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