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American Airlines Employees Vote in A Squeaker to Keep the New Tail Design

@denschaal

Jan 02, 2014 3:00 pm

Skift Take

With the vote so close, this exercise didn’t do much for employee unity in the mergers, although it’s unclear if the vote broke down along party i.e. airline lines.

— Dennis Schaal

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Max Faulkner  / Fort Worth Star-Telegram/MCT

By a narrow margin, just 2,292 votes, American Airlines employees voted in favor of the new flag tail design that was unveiled last year. Pictured, an American Airlines jet crosses International Parkway as motorist slowly travel at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, Friday, Dec. 6, 2013. Max Faulkner / Fort Worth Star-Telegram/MCT


To stay with the new tail design or to scrap it for the older one was as controversial a question among American Airlines employees as it was in the media, and employees voted in a narrow majority, 52%, to go with the new flag tail.

The vote was 31,355 votes in favor of the new flag tail, and 29,063 vote in favor of the traditional American Airlines tail. About 60% of employees took part in the ballot, which was decided by a mere 2.292 votes.

Some 60% of employees at the new American Airlines participated in the vote.

“It was very close but the majority has spoken and the new flag tail will proudly represent American Airlines — and all of us — for years to come,” CEO Doug Parker wrote in a letter to employees.

“As I said early in this process, I was indifferent as to which option we chose, I just wanted you to be able to choose,” Parker wrote. “Now that the votes are in, I’m really pleased to have a firm decision we can all embrace. This is the airplane we’ll fly as we restore American to the greatest airline in the world — and that is exciting.”

The choice of the new livery, made by Tom Horton’s American Airlines in January 2013, about a month before the merger agreement was announced, was controversial, and Parker quickly decided last month he would leave part of the decision up to employees. 

Parker stated it would be too costly to discard the new livery design of the fuselage, but the tail design would be up for the employees to decide.

In his employee letter, Parker tried to offer some comfort to those employees who preferred the traditional AA tail, noting that 580 US Airways will be the priority in getting the new paint job. That means that plenty of aircraft in the American Airlines fleet will be flying with the “classic Silverbirds” for an extended period before getting repainted, Parker said.

File photo of a US Airways plane passing American Airlines planes at Ronald Reagan National Airport in Washington

Reuters/Kevin Lamarque

Each narrow body takes 8-11 days to paint; wide bodies take 13-17 days.

In all, more than 1,100 American Airlines and US Airways aircraft are due to be painted.

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