It appears the airline industry is headed toward four "super-airlines" running the market. All the recent mergers have consolidated brands and routes across the country, but it never seems to get better for passengers.
Based on the Airline Quality Rating for the past three years of reports, US Airways has consistently ranked higher than American Airlines. This is based on the annual Airline Quality Rating survey conducted by Dr. Brent Bowen of Purdue University and Dr. Dean Headley of Wichita State University.
Flyers seem to get the raw end of the deal when these mergers occur, but how much worse can it get?
American Airlines planned merger with USAirways will create an large bastion of mediocrity that will serve the public in far poorer fashion, according to Dr. Brent Bowen , Purdue University professor responsible for the annual Airline Quality Rating (AQR) report.
Bowen says every merger over the past 25 years has resulted in each of the two airlines significantly declining across the board in key performance benchmarks such as late flights, lost luggage, and reduced customer satisfaction.
Flying is already hard enough, so it looks like it could get worse before it gets better.
"There will be no benefits to performance and consumers will not see better quality," Bowen said. "Employees of both airlines will be unhappy and destabilized for an extended period."
I guess there is a small chance the smaller U.S. Airways could help American with its performance, but the professors don't think so.
In the 2008 AQR report, American placed 9th overall. Since then, their performance in the rankings has steadily worsened, while US Airways' ranking has improved.
Information from past mergers:
Following the United-Continental merger, the DOT reported that customer complaints increased, as did lost baggage. Headley suspects that the company's $3 billion merger with Continental Airlines is to blame. "Anytime you have two airlines trying to combine, one of those airlines is going to have a period of decline."
Mergers can also be bad for employees. Concerns about layoffs, future salaries, seniority, and pension plans can drive tension that damages employee morale and lowers the quality of customer service.
If you would like to participate in the survey, head on over to www.purdue.edu/aqr.