In a move described as 'vintage Wolf', USAir will this year become US Airways, accompanied by a complete facelift. But below the cosmetic makeover, there are signs that the carrier's chairman is finally healing the longstanding rifts with labour.

USAir chairman and CEO Stephen Wolf, who has master-minded makeovers at other airlines, including United Airlines and Flying Tigers, says the new look is an expression of the company's evolving position among both US domestic and international airlines. 'It's time to say to the world, and to ourselves, who we are and what we intend to become.'

The revamp includes changes such as a new international business-class service, improved seats and a revamped frequent flyer programme. At the same time, Wolf plans to cut back service at the carrier's Baltimore hub and concentrate on building up an international gateway at Philadelphia.

But accompanying what is essentially a window-dressing exercise is evidence that Wolf appears, finally, to be engendering a sense of team spirit at the strife-torn company. 'Wolf has shown the labour groups and employees that management is committed to USAir as a going concern,' says NatWest Markets' Stephan Sayre. 'What was most interesting was the way he announced these cosmetic changes to the analysts, in that he had the union representatives stand up and put their own spin on what is happening.' Union chiefs spoke of a new environment of negotiation in which they said the voice of the employee was finally being heard.


Karen Walker

Source: Airline Business