Will Two Airlines Collide?

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We could be approaching an air transportation tragedy of epic proportions. Merger talks are getting serious. But the tragedy isn’t Delta threatening to swallow up Northwest. That will be a mercy killing. There’s no way a Delta merger could possibly lower Northwest’s customer service further. It’s already at rock bottom.

The “collision” I’m referring to is United negotiating to buy Continental. I’d love to be the lead organization development consulting firm on that deal, if it goes through. An infinite amount of O.D. work will be required to force-fit together United – with service nearly as bad as Northworst’s and staff morale in the tank – and Continental, with the best service of hub and spoke U.S. airlines and a highly motivated work force. Considering their respective sizes, don’t have to guess which culture will prevail. I saw it happen 25 years ago when Northwest gobbled up my favorite airline at the time, Republic, The wonderful service on Republic didn’t put a dent into Northwest’s customer indifference.

Sad to say, there’s about nothing customers can do about it—except for writing our representatives in Washington protesting, which is likely an exercise in futility. Too bad, because this hits me hard, personally. I go out of my way to fly Continental, especially overseas. If it happens, I’m going to feel like I’ve lost a good friend.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Francis – now I feel even worse about the prospects. Not suprisingly, the larger company’s culture almost always prevails.

    Dick Lee

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