US Airways and American Airlines won over pilots, flight attendants, and transport worker unions by bringing them into hush-hush talks months before the merger plan was publicly announced. After economic free-fall and a 2011 bankruptcy, AA employees longed for a new boss,
veteran AA pilot Tom Hoban says. “We’ve just suffered under poor leadership for so long that we were willing to consider a new team with a fresh strategic vision for the combined airline,” he says. Even so, they found a possible $20 million severance package for AA CEO Tom Horton hard to swallow. The bonus was blocked by a U.S. bankruptcy judge, but company spokesman Michael Trevino said the payout could survive the merger agreement. It goes down badly with 400,000 AA retirees who say the company wants to scuttle promised life, health, and dental coverage.