Sometimes power clouds the heads of individuals. Maybe they get wrapped up in their own hype. Maybe the taste of obscene wealth makes them drunk. I don’t know exactly what it is but reason and the greater good begins to take a back seat to ambition.
Earlier this year I interviewed Doug Parker, the CEO of US Airways about how he was going to merge the workforces of US Airways and America West airlines. The two airlines had just merged and Parker had become the new CEO. He talked about how making sure the many employees now under his belt were happy and well adjusted was at the top of his priority list.
He had a difficult road ahead. Taking America West’s 14,000 workers and folding them into US Airways workforce of 21,000 were going to be anything but easy. We’re talking tons of union contracts, an array of hubs…not to mention the two very different cultures – US Airways button-down history, to America West’s laid-back mentality.
Airline analysts had estimated it would take years to make his vision of unity work.
So imagine my shock when Parker and US Airways announced yesterday they were making a bid to take over bankrupt Delta Air Lines. How could he take on such a monumental venture before getting all his labor baggage off of US Airways’ luggage turnstyle?
Was it a brain fart? I can’t imagine Parker was just giving me lip service.
OK, I’m being a bit silly. It’s all about economies of scale, they say. You know they, the corporate bigwigs, Wall Street. Indeed, US Airways stock skyrocketed after news of the possible merger.
If we put aside the huge anti trust issues with such a combination, the loss of consumer choices, and the inevitable loss of jobs, that leaves one thing.
When I asked Parker in January how he was going to build the trust of his new workforce and truly make such a melding work, he said: “I can’t change their minds overnight.”
Well, turns out he must have.