America West-US Airways merger spurs host of comms changes

PHOENIX, AZ: The recently finalized merger between US Airways and America West marks the end of the road for most of US Airway?s current in-house communication team.

PHOENIX, AZ: The recently finalized merger between US Airways and America West marks the end of the road for most of US Airway?s current in-house communication team.

The new airline, which will be named US Airways, will be based in Arizona, where America West is headquartered. That contributed to the decision to retain America's West's communication personnel rather than US Airways'.

"You've got to really want to come to make that kind of move commitment, from DC to Phoenix," said America West's VP of communications Elise Eberwein. She said "most if not all" of US Airways' in-house team has chosen not to stay on with the company.

Despite their departure, Eberwein said she hopes to build her communication staff from seven to about 10 people as the companies' integration process continues.

During the merger, US Airways worked with Burson-Marsteller, and America West worked with Hill & Knowlton. The relationship with Burson concluded last month, according to departing US Airways SVP of corporate affairs Chris Chiames.

Eberwein said that H&K's work on the merger is complete, but added "I would suspect if I had anything of magnitude [in the future] I would continue to rely on them."

America West has historically not had an AOR, and Eberwein expected that tradition to continue in the combined company. "We prefer to do a lot of it ourselves," she said. "Most of what we do is pretty tactical in nature."

Because the new company will retain the US Airways name, its "rebranding" work will focus more on internal communications than consumer advertising.

"It will be on the PR side, it will be internally focused," said Eberwein, "to blend two cultures, and heal two cultures, because the US Airways employee base has been pretty beaten up over the last couple of years."

 

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