Hard on the heels of a report that US Airways is in merger talks with fellow Star Alliance member United Airlines, the union representing US Airways' pilots says it stands ready to work with management on a tie-up "if it is beneficial" to its members.

"We have no interest in pursuing or helping this company in a merger that is not going to benefit this pilot group," says a spokesman for the US Airline Pilots Association (USAPA).

He says US Airways pilots "look forward to being full partners in any merger moving forward".

The New York Times yesterday reported that US Airways and United have resumed merger talks.

The two carriers - which have each worked through Chapter 11 restructuring in recent years - attempted to merge earlier in the decade, but antitrust regulators rejected the deal, after concluding it "would reduce competition, raise fares ad harm consumers on airline routes throughout the United States". Subsequent merger discussions did not glean a result.

US Airways in 2005 merged with low-cost operator America West Airlines. The USAPA spokesman points out that the pilot seniority list at US Airways has still not been integrated since the merger with America West.

"We see it's hard to move forward with a new merger when they haven't closed the door on the previous merger."

He says the union "learned about [US Airways' talks with United] as the rest of the world learned about it, through the media".

Pilots at US Airways have reason to pay close attention to how merger discussions progress. If a deal is reached, and United acts as the acquirer, such a move would trigger provisions in a prior concessionary agreement between US Airways and its pilots, and snap the employee group back into a more favourable pay scale.

ATI understands that US Airways is scheduled to address employees today, as part of management's monthly update. US Airways could not be immediately reached for comment.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news