Monday, December 24, 2012

As US Airways Plans a Sixth Merger, Ed Colodny Recalls the First Four

By Ted Reed12/24/12 - 06:05 AM EST

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (TheStreet) -- Ed Colodny knows mergers, particularly mergers involving US Airways(LCC_). As head of USAir from 1975 to 1991, he presided over four of them and considered a half dozen more.

 "Putting together any merger is difficult," said Colodny, who is 86 years old and sharp as a tack, in an interview. "When you have large organizations like this, it's (hard) to try and figure out where the future is going to be."
"Mergers work best when one (carrier) is weak and one is strong and the weak one appreciates being bought up so they can all survive," he added. "Merging two strong airlines is inherently a culture clash, particularly at the top."

Nevertheless, Colodny said the impending merger between US Airways and American(AAMRQ.PK) will "probably be a great combination if it does occur -- just don't expect (a successful integration) to happen in six weeks or six months."
"American has a very proud heritage going back to its earliest days, and US Airways is equally proud if not more so," he said. "It had to come up the hard way because it did not start out as one of the chosen trunk airlines; it was a small regional carrier."
Colodny joined US Airways-predecessor Allegheny, previously called All American Airways, as its first staff attorney in 1957. The carrier had begun flying passengers in 1949. It was based at National Airport and had routes from Washington north to Buffalo and west to Pittsburgh.
Colodny was deeply involved in four mergers starting in 1967, when Allegheny merged with Indianapolis-based Lake Central Airlines. At the time, the Civil Aeronautics Board encouraged mergers to reduce subsidies. "Lake Central was the easiest, a friendly deal with few problems," he said. In 1971, Allegheny merged with Utica, N.Y. -based Mohawk Airlines. "Mohawk was in trouble and the banks forced it into a merger," he said. "It worked out fairly easily."
In 1987, USAir bought PSA. "That worked out easily too," Colodny said. "They wanted to do it. But from a cultural standpoint, there were differences, and when we took the smile off the PSA planes, there were screams up and down the West Coast."

The fourth and best-remembered USAir merger came in 1987 with Piedmont Airlines. Today, it is often cited as an example of an extreme case of corporate culture clash. As Jerry Orr, director of Charlotte Douglas International Airport, once said: "When you buy somebody, you ought to save the good parts and throw away the bad parts, but USAir did the opposite." Orr added: "They thought the sun rose and set in Pittsburgh."
Colodny said the merger was not so bad, despite the challenge of merging two successful airlines. "There was a very proud group of employees and managers at Piedmont," he said. "They had built a wonderful airline and they weren't anxious to lose their identity. As with many things, there was emotional resistance, and they thought US Air people were imposing USAir operating policies on their systems.
"But it did come together," he said. "When we merged with Piedmont we doubled the size of the airline and Charlotte became a wonderful hub."
Still, leadership conflicts simmered. A few years before the buyout, USAir had sought a friendly merger. "It fell apart largely over the issue of leadership," Colodny said. At the time, Bill Howard was Piedmont CEO. "I was willing to let Bill be CEO first for a couple of years, but then, at 65, he would retire and become chairman and I would take over as CEO. But he claimed he had a deal with his board to be CEO until he was 67. I said 'I am sorry, I can't buy that deal' and we walked away from each other." When US Air acquired Piedmont, Howard left. Recalled Colodny: "I would not say we parted on lovey-dovey terms."
Additionally, Colodny said, a dispute with the International Association of Machinists made it difficult to merge work forces. And one other thing: a small, Phoenix-based airline slowed things down. The airline was America West, and CEO Ed Beauvais thought he could obtain slots at Washington National as part of a merger divestiture. "He went to court to try to break up the merger," Colodny said: "It caused a delay; we lost over a year. That particularly hurt the Piedmont operation because management people started to defect."
Now the America West people, who have run US Airways ever since a 2005 merger, have more slots at Washington National than they ever dreamed of. They also have bigger fish to fry.


Friday, December 21, 2012

Delta Air Gets 22,000 Applications for 300 Attendant Jobs

 By Mary Schlangenstein - Dec 21, 2012 2:17 PM MT.

Delta Air Lines Inc. (DAL), the world’s second-largest carrier, received 22,000 applications for about 300 flight attendant jobs in the first week after posting the positions outside the company.

“We’re hunting for foreign-language speakers as we continue to expand to all points around the globe,” Richard Anderson, chief executive officer of Delta Air Lines Inc. said. Photographer: Chris Rank/Bloomberg
The applications arrived at a rate of two per minute, Chief Executive Officer Richard Anderson told workers in a weekly recorded message. Applicants will be interviewed in January and those hired will begin flying in June, for the peak travel season.

“We’re hunting for foreign-language speakers as we continue to expand to all points around the globe,” Anderson said. “We are experiencing a phenomenal response to the job posting.”

Delta’s applicant rush reflects the demand for jobs amid a 7.9 percent U.S. unemployment rate and the interest in an industry where flight privileges are a prized employee benefit. The Atlanta-based carrier received 100,000 applications for 1,000 jobs when it last hired flight attendants in October 2010.

While Anderson put the number of positions in the latest round of hiring at about 300, Betsy Talton, a spokeswoman, said it could reach 400. As many as 30 percent will speak languages including Japanese, Hindi, Mandarin and Portuguese, she said.

Delta has said it plans to develop Seattle into a U.S. West Coast gateway for flights to Asia, adding service to Tokyo’s Haneda airport and to Shanghai. In October, the Atlanta-based airline said it would add flights between Paris and 11 U.S. cities in 2013.

US Airways Group Inc. (LCC) attracted 14,000 applicants when it hired 420 attendants in December of that year.
Airline Employment

U.S. passenger airlines employed 384,310 workers in October, down 1.3 percent from a year earlier, the U.S. Transportation Department’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics said in a report today. The total for October, the latest month for which government statistics are available, was the lowest since May 2011, the agency said.

Five so-called network airlines that include Delta and United Continental Holdings Inc. employ two-thirds of the total workers. They reported 1.4 percent fewer full-time equivalent employees in October from a year earlier.

Low-cost carriers such as Southwest Airlines Co. and JetBlue Airways Corp. reported a 1.6 percent increase, BTS said.

Delta fell 0.7 percent to $11.86 at the close in New York as most other members of the Bloomberg U.S. Airlines Index (BUSAIRL) also declined. The shares have risen 47 percent this year.

To contact the reporter on this story: Mary Schlangenstein in Dallas at
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Ed Dufner at

Monday, December 10, 2012

9 easy ways to make a flight attendant go insane

An anonymous airline crew member lets rip on passengers' most annoying habits

Smiling flight attendant
Sure, she's smiling now. But just wait till you try and go to the toilet when the seat belt light is on. (File photo)I’ve been working for a well-known commercial airline in Asia for a few years now. On a good day, it’s a five-star hotel in Shanghai, shopping in Paris or winning a game of roulette in Las Vegas. On a bad one, it’s emergency landings, 12-hour long delays and an endless stream of obnoxious/annoying passengers.
Don’t let our svelte figures, exquisitely tailored uniforms and perfect smiles fool you. You do not want to get on the bad side of the person who serves you food, brings you drinks and keeps you safe when you’re stuck in a tin can flying at 35,000 feet.
I’ve put together a list of the nine things that really get under a flight attendant’s skin. Worst of all these crimes against aviation are so common sense -- yet they happen on every single flight.

1. Adopt an 'I paid for my ticket so I can whine all I like' attitude

“My seat is too small.”
“The flight is delayed.”
“The coffee is too hot.”
“The tea tastes weird.“
"The airplane is ugly.”
Stop it right there! I’m sorry your bottom is too big for the seat. Next time upgrade to first class.
And you know what? The plane is delayed because your fellow passenger couldn’t decide which bottle of vodka he wanted to buy at the duty free shop, so he was 30 minutes late to the gate.
Keep complaining and your next drink will be a gin and tonic stirred with a high heel.


2. Play it like Nintendo

call buttonUnless it's an emergency, for the sake of all flight attendants worldwide, just pretend that little call button doesn't exist. Just keep on pumping that flight attendant call button. Mario & Luigi aren’t coming to rescue you but the angry King Bowser will.
According to international regulations, one flight attendant is responsible for up to 50 passengers. This means that, worst-case scenario, the cabin crew could be giving someone CPR or delivering a baby while you or your precocious little darling is jamming on that button.
Here’s my advice: just get up and walk to the nearest galley and ask for what you need. Stretching your legs, getting up and walking around the cabin may even help prevent complications such as blood clots, cold feet and the breakdown of your skin.

3. Pretend you’re in a restaurant

“Today, we have beef steak with lemon grass and barbecue pork with Japanese rice. Which would you prefer?” asks the beautiful flight attendant.
The man turns to her and says, “I’ll have fish. Do you have fish? I want fish. I can’t eat anything else but fish.”
First of all, a galley on a plane is not a kitchen. We do not cook.
Here’s how to get your fish: send the request when your book your flight if you wish to have a specific meal.

4. Ask unintelligent questions

glass of waterThe dreaded glass of mystery liquid. Also known as water.When faced with a glass full of dark water with bubbles and ice, what do you think it is? That’s correct, it’s cola. How about that clear liquid? Yes, that’s water.
Let’s imagine the whole row is asking these mundane questions, even though they are sitting next to each other. After being asked by around 50-plus people, I am eventually so depressed I just stop answering.
A passenger once even asked me if we had iPads on board. I was speechless.

5. Laugh and whisper

Talking behind someone’s back is rude. It’s even ruder to look at someone and laugh in their face, and then whisper/giggle to the person beside you in your own language.
Last time that happened, I accidentally parked a drink cart in front of the restroom and trapped that funny man inside. Karma comes fast.

6. Talk on the phone after the plane has left the gate

mobile phone on airplane"I'm pretending I didn't hear you tell me to switch off my electronic device as I think that whole 'communication interference' stuff is a load of poppycock."Not turning your phone off is a surefire way to make the cabin crew go berserk. I have to admit, I take great pleasure in yelling at people to switch off their phones. I make a really serious face, then point at the phone and say “OFF NOW.”
The fact is: communicating with the control tower is difficult enough. Pilots aren’t sitting there chit chatting about fashion or pop stars. They are trying to take off and not get struck by another plane that might be landing seconds later, all while your phone’s signal is potentially interfering with communications.

7. Be an irresponsible parent

A young mother once asked me put some coffee creamer in her baby’s bottle. Really. For your information: formula can be carried onto the plane with you.
Meanwhile, some parents assume flight attendants will happily babysit their kids for them while they do something else, like nap or watch a movie.
That’s not in my job description. Not every flight attendant loves children. Babysitting you is already hard enough.

8. Complain that your bags are too heavy

overhead binsFlight attendants are happy to close the overhead bins. Cramming things into them is another story. (File photo)You came all the way from home, dragged your bags down the stairs to the door, put them in the trunk of the car, drove all the way to the airport, dragged them through security and all the way to your seat.
Suddenly, the bags are too heavy for you to put into the overhead compartment by yourself.
Passengers don’t realize that flight attendants don’t get compensated for any injuries that come of this common situation. The deal is: you brought it, shove up there yourself or we throw it out the door and under the plane.

9. Ignore the seat belt sign

“When the seat belt sign is on, please take your seat and fasten your seat belt.”
Pretty obvious, isn’t it?
Yet on every single flight there will be people getting up to go to the washroom when the seat belt sign is on. This is somewhat understandable -- if you’re about to wet your seat. Or worse.
And then there are the passengers who just want to walk around and talk to people.
When the sign is on during takeoff, landing or during turbulence, it’s very dangerous to be wandering off. Your face could be smashed into the sink or another passenger’s head.

6 in-flight myths, busted

Why do you always get sick on a flight? Why do we "brace?" Why do flight attendants talk like that? We have the answers

From the moment you enter an aircraft you are pummeled with instructions: turn your phone off, put your window blind up, put your seat upright, eat this slop.
How often do you stop to question why?
Airlines aren’t trying to make travel painful. There’s a good reason for nearly every in-flight burden.

Seven of NineShe, and flight attendants, know how to make you listen.

1. Why flight attendants talk like cyborgs

Myth: Flight attendants are bossy robots.
Fact: Flight attendants need you to listen and cooperate.
Does your flight attendant remind you of “Seven of Nine” from “Star Trek -- Voyager”? Flight attendants often take on the hot Borg’s direct and robotic demeanor to make passengers listen.
They “will go ahead and put your seat in the up-right position” and they’re going to “need you to take your seat.”
A recently published article at Forbes, written by staffer Jeff Bercovici, took an inquisitive look at the assertive vocabulary used by flight attendants.
The article found that the extraneous words like “will go ahead” are linguistic techniques to catch the passenger’s attention early in a sentence so the request doesn’t have to be repeated, which is especially handy in an emergency.

seats upright"I'll just make do for the last 30 minutes."

2. Why we open window blinds and put seats upright

Myth: We do this to “reset” the plane for the next round of passengers.
Fact: It's a subtle safety feature. Pulling up the blinds makes us alert to potential hazards.
Elin Wong, corporate communications manager for Cathay Pacific, explains, “We ask all passengers to pull up the window shelf before landing, so that any abnormalities outside the aircraft can be duly observed by the cabin crew or passengers and be reported to the cockpit crew if necessary.”
As for that stiff 90-degree seated incline, it's all about reducing impact. A former Air Canada flight attendant tells us that shifting those few centimeters forward reduces the distance from your head to the seat in front of you.
It also makes it easier for the passenger behind to evacuate.

air sickThat arm rest is dirtier than what's going through that mask.

3. Why we get sick from planes

Myth: Re-circulated air in a plane makes us sick.
Fact: Re-circulated air is actually very sanitary; we get sick from what we touch.
According to Boeing, cabin air is constantly being replaced by pressurized fresh air from outside. That air also passes through filters that remove 99.97 percent of any airborne pathogens like bacteria and viruses.
But frequently used surfaces like tray tables, pillows, seat arms, seats, toilets and sinks are less sanitary, often contacted by hundreds of passengers in a single day.
Popular science and technology blog iO9 consulted microbiology experts who explained that one toilet per 50 passengers is a far more likely reason you'll fall ill than the air.
The answer -- don't bother with the facial mask, opt for disinfectant wipes and hand sanitizer instead.
More on CNNGo: In-flight wishlist: How would you make air travel fun?

airplane foodSilence makes the taste grow fonder.

4. Why airline food tastes bad

Myth: Airline food is disgusting because it's cheap and pre-processed.
Fact: Airline food actually tastes OK; it's the noise from the engine that distracts us.
It’s hard to comprehend at first, but the University of Manchester research article, “Effect of background noise on food perception” published by the BBC, reported that if background noise is too loud, it might draw attention away from the taste of food and towards the noise.
In the article, researcher Andy Woods fed various foods to people while they were listening to nothing or noise through headphones. He found that noisy conditions caused the subjects' perception of saltiness and sweetness to lower, and their perception of crunchiness to increase.
So the loud and constant noise from an aircraft's engines could have the same effect, he explains.

brace positionA proven position for injury minimization.

5. Why we brace during an emergency

Myth: We brace to make us feel like we have a chance of surviving; we brace to ensure we are still and calm during an emergency; we brace to preserve our dental records so coroners can identify us after a crash.
Fact: The Australian Government Civil Aviation Safety Authority clarifies, “It has been proven that passengers who assume the brace position sustain substantially less serious injuries than other passengers.”
Furthermore, the Federal Aviation Administration regulatory guideline says bracing is meant to reduce secondary impact, by positioning the body (particularly the head) against the surface it would strike during impact.
The other reason to brace is to reduce flailing around. And we all know that flailing -- in any situation -- will get you hurt.

texting on a plane"Words With Friends" can get you, and your airline, into trouble.

6. Why we turn off cell phones

Myth: Cell phone signals interefere with aircraft electronics.
Fact: Airlines are adhering to aviation guidelines that restrict the use of personal electronic devices (PEDs), even though evidence that they interfere with aircraft systems is lacking.
Airlines aren’t actually 100 percent sure that phones will interfere with aircraft systems. After all, a recent study claimed nearly 6.5 million people in 12 months left their phones on while they flew in and out of the United Kingdom without any problems.

But most aviation authorities, such as the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), prohibit the use of cell phones and other PEDs unless it can be proved they definitely do not interfere.
To get approval to use a mobile, the airline would have to test every single model of phone with every single model of aircraft to make sure it doesn’t interfere with both the plane and ground networks -- which would be just a little too time consuming and expensive.
It's far easier just to ask people to turn their phones off.