Kris Jetzer, a six-year employee of American who works in the weights and balancing department, said workers at the airline want to see the merge approved so American’s parent company can emerge from bankruptcy.
“It puts American into a very competitive spot in size as the largest carrier in the world and we’ll be able to compete again against a merged Delta and a merged United,” said Jetzer before boarding the flight.
The merger between American and US Airways has been placed on hold as the U.S. Department of Justice filed an anti-trust lawsuit in August to stop the deal. The government says the merger is anti-competitive and would hurt consumers with higher fares and more fees.
“The DOJ is saying, ‘no, no, no’ and we’re saying ‘yes, yes, yes,’” said Tara Paige, an eight-year reservations specialist who works out of her home in Arlington. “ They need to see the face of American, not just the company but they need to see me as a person.”
Some employees took vacation days so they could attend a rally at the Capitol building on Wednesday. For seventeen-year employee Tariq Mahmood said he usually doesn’t work on Tuesday and Wednesday so it made sense for him to volunteer to show his support for the merger.
“This was my day off so I said ‘let’s go’,” Mahmood said. “As employees we’re sacrificing our time to support this.”
Twenty-two year-old Zack Minter has only been with American for one month, working in the Admirals Club at Dallas/Fort Worth Airport, but says he is an example of what the merged airline could be.
“The new American really places a lot of value on the customer and cultivating relationships with our customers and our people,” Zack said. “If we’re able to merge with US Airways we can bring that level of customer care to a larger group of people.”
Most of the passengers on the charter work for American but there were a few US Airways employees on the flight, some of who have been at American’s headquarters to coordinate integration of the two carriers after the merger closes. A similar charter flight for employees at US Airways headquarters in Phoenix also left for the capitol on Tuesday.
Fort Worth resident and US Airways flight attendant Greg Bentley said he believes the merger provides job security for himself and his co-workers who have survived previous airline bankruptcies and furloughs in the tumultuous airline industry.
“We can’t remain a weak carrier in this environment and the only way that we’re going to be successful is to be a stronger single airline,’ Bentley said.
While employees are rallying at the Capitol, American’s board of directors will meet today to discuss the carrier’s merger agreement with US Airways. American chief executive Tom Horton plans to ask the board to remove his $20 million compensation package from the merger agreement at the meeting.
Last week, U.S. bankruptcy judge Sean Lane ruled that Horton’s compensation did not conform to rules in the bankruptcy code and should not be included in the restructuring plan. However, Lane did approve the restructuring plan that will allow American’s parent company, AMR Corp., to emerge from bankruptcy protection if the anti-trust suit is resolved in the carrier’s favor.