Award Winning Blog

Monday, April 29, 2019

What the Mergers by and of U.S. Airways Tell Us About the TMobile Sprint Merger

            You might join me in the contempt for the various sponsored (“coin-operated”) scholars who sing the praises of the TMobile and Sprint merger. These sponsored researcher/advocates never get around to explaining just what the separate companies cannot do now that they will be able to do as a combined company. There is ample empirical evidence that merged companies do not accrue the much-touted consumer and shareholder benefits.

            Let’s consider this issue in the context of commercial aviation and the airline I loved to hate for decades: The one in the same Allegheny Airlines, USAir and U.S. Airways.   Several decades ago, this airline acquired three, regional carriers: Piedmont; Pacific Southwest Airlines and America West. At least 2 of the 3 carriers had a better than average consumer ratings before their merger.  Of course, the rest is history: the merged company managed to leach out everything good coming from the acquired companies.

            Piedmont served mostly southern U.S. destinations with the same kind of pleasantness Southwest provides most of the time now. In addition, Piedmont innovated and offered price discounts.  They had a “Hopscotch Fare” that provided savings for passengers willing to take multiple flight segments instead of a non-stop flight.  I understand that passengers loved PSA and air traffic controllers used the name Cactus for America West, perhaps to commemorate the airline’s folksiness, but maybe to avoid confusion with American Airlines, the company that ended up acquiring U.S. Airways.

            In any event, American Airlines does not seem to offer much of anything cheaper or different than the other two major carriers United and Delta.  Consumers choose their poison and lock in for the occasional perk loyalty and frequently flier programs offer.

            Just now I wonder whether TMobile, Sprint and the vast array of funded merger advocates will convince the court of public opinion how much improved, cheaper, innovative and great the U.S. wireless marketplace will become.  The next time you board a domestic flight, think about how greater the user experience has become thanks to elimination of Continental, Northwest, and dozens of other competitors.