Saturday, December 22, 2007

Who is messing up the Airlines?

It looks to me like airline workers could do a better job of running an airline than management does.  And they could certainly do without those parasitical stockholders who only care about increasing the price per stock by a few cents and damn the business or the fliers.

A rich record of the employee discontent emerges from regular question-and-answer sessions held at US Airways, which is both the worst-performing big airline in the country and a company that encourages its 36,000 workers to direct tough questions at its chief executive, W. Douglas Parker.

“Doug, I watched you on CNBC today,” said one e-mail message from a worker, sent on Oct. 25. “And I hate to tell you but the interiors of our plans [sic] smell bad and they are filthy. As an employee I am embarrassed to admit working for US Airways. When are you going to quit talking and do something about it?”

The rancor is not any worse at US Airways than at most other big carriers. What is different is that Mr. Parker, 46, subscribes to the let-it-all-hang-out school of employee relations.

He says management learns a lot about how the airline is actually performing through an uncensored give-and-take — and he willingly provided transcripts of the Q. and A. sessions.

The brawling dialogue does, however, suggest that airline service might get worse before it gets better. The current US Airways is a result of the most recent big airline merger, with America West Airlines in 2005. Mr. Parker tried unsuccessfully to acquire Delta Air Lines a year ago. Now, other airlines are mulling mergers as a way of cutting costs to offset high fuel expenses. Such deals could start a broader service decline.

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