Integration Went Too Smoothly — Customer Service Agents Hung Out With Nothing to Do
Calling US Airways flights American Airlines flights didn’t mean the integration work was over.
American still had to integrate three different workforces — legacy American, US Airways, and America West (!) — and move flight operations onto a single system.
For pilots the impossible has occurred. The US Airways-America West merger was never actually completed in large measure because pilots kept suing each other over seniority, and indeed even over which pilots could negotiate with the airline on a contract and what they had to ask for. The American merger, by giving US Airways and legacy America West (‘US Airways West’) pilots a raise and pre-committing everyone to an outcome, finally created the ability for pilots to integrate.
Yesterday represented potentially the biggest operational challenge for the combined airline, not dealing with customer reservations or frequent flyer accounts but moving to a single Flight Operating System.
Legacy American Airlines Airbus A319
As I predicted based on the smooth integration work so far, this latest test went incredibly well. As Joe Brancatelli summarized,
Combining flight operations onto one system doesn’t yet ‘finish’ the merger with work still to be done at least through spring.
I think American is making a lot of very bad decisions with respect to how it treats its customers, and the products it’s providing. And while I think customer-facing IT has a lot of work to do, from an operational standpoint they really do seem to have nailed the technology, at least where it’s had the greatest potential for disruption. Real congratulations to American Airlines CIO Maya Leibman are in order.