US Airways merger could cost Valley thousands of jobs, millions of dollars

November 13, 2012

A valley organization is calling attention to the impact of the potential merger between bankrupt American Airlines and Tempe-based US Airways. From Phoenix, KJZZ’s Nick Blumberg reports.

NICK BLUMBERG: US Airways and American have been meeting confidentially since the end of August. US Airways CEO Doug Parker has said if they merge, the new airline will likely move its headquarters -- and its 2,000 jobs -- to Texas. The North Scottsdale Chamber of Commerce commissioned a study on the impact of a move by economist Elliott D. Pollack’s firm. The study found while US Airways employs a little more than 9,000 people in Arizona, its presence contributes to the viability of 15,000 more jobs. And, state and local governments make about $140 million in taxes from the airline and related activity per year. Chamber of Commerce executive director Joe Galli wants to convince US Airways to stay in town.

JOE GALLI: The airline is our hometown airline, and they have a great history here in the Valley of serving our business community. We are concerned that we could lose our identity with them, and the jobs. In a market as big as Phoenix, losing the people working in that building in Tempe is not going to be any kind of a mortal hit, if it does happen.

BLUMBERG: Michael Boyd chairs an aviation consulting firm based in Colorado.

MICHAEL BOYD: Look at the United-Continental merger. They moved the headquarters from Houston to Chicago, but a hub is still in Houston. Delta-Northwest, they moved the headquarters all to Atlanta, but Minneapolis-St. Paul still has a hub. The general result of that when the dust settles is some empty office space.

BLUMBERG: And while nobody would argue that losing jobs is a good thing, Boyd says in the long run, the merger could lead to the Phoenix hub expanding. Galli is hopeful for that possibility.

GALLI: We think that’s a fair discussion to have -- what is the real impact going to be? We’re hopeful, as they talk about keeping hub operations here, that they won’t reduce hub operations and they won’t reduce flight operations either.

BLUMBERG: Galli said his group is trying to raise awareness of what a US - American merger might mean.

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