US Air and Delta - merger tidbits

A little update on the US Airways/Delta merger situation. I read over the letters that the CEOs of the two airlines sent each other. I chuckled at the fact that US Air CEO Doug Parker called his Delta counterpart as "Jerry". (You can read the two letters here and here.)

Yet despite all the amicable talk, Jerry isn't giving in to Doug's request.
Instead, both sides have launched massive PR campaigns in order to try to sway public opinion towards their sides. US Airways has hired the firm of Joele Frank, Wilkinson Brimmer Katcher in order to show its case for a merger (read: takeover), while Delta has hired Kekst and Co.

According to USA Today, US Airways has created a newsletter called For the Record, which will present news about the merger, although obviously in a pro-merger way. For its part, Delta has carried out a full page ad in Atlanta's Journal-Constitution going against the merger. It has also given out 50,000 lapel buttons that say 'Keep Delta My Delta'.

But lapel pins might not cut it. Delta faces an uphill struggle to stay independent from US Airways. Jerry can try as hard as he can to avoid a merger but in the end, it's up to the creditors. And if the US Airways team can convince them that the merger will be the most beneficial for them, then it will probably happen.
Here's my advice for both - or rather, my opinion on what they might do, since I am probably unqualified to give any real advice:
  • Delta should explain clearly why this merger is a bad thing - or rather, isn't beneficial. The lapel pins and a full-page ad may foster some sympathy, but it's probably not enough in the end. The consumer should be aware of the downsides of such a merger (frequent-flyer program hassles, integration hassles in general, decreased competition, higher fares, etc.).
  • US Airways should explain in its campaign about why this merger might be beneficial. An increased route network means more destinations on the same frequent flyer program, which is something that travelers look for.
Feel free to leave comments!


Robby said...

Both airlines are too hostile at such an early stage. If US wants to make this merger appear at least somewhat "friendly" they should be pointing out the benefits of shared facilities, more efficient flights, better connections, etc.

US Airways is banking on using their success with America West as proof, but that won't convince those loyal to Delta that the merger is in their best interest. If the merge does go through, US will want Delta portraying a positive image of the new and "improved" carrier through communication with current Delta customers.