Mergers made easy

Travel ConfidentialOften the biggest sticking point for any proposed airline merger can be getting the pilots from both carriers aboard. But judging from the recent reaction of leaders from both United and Continental pilots unions to Jeffery Smisek, Continental CEO and the man tapped to be CEO of the new, merged United, the brass for airlines can rest a little easier. TC happened to be chatting with the pilot union leaders outside a Senate hearing room before a subcommittee hearing when Smisek strode up. He stuck out his hand to each of them, saying, "Hey, I'm Jeff." The airline exec then talked with the pilots until the hearing started. The United pilots said their airline CEO, Glenn Tilton, would never have embraced them that way. "I'm beginning to like this merger already," one of the United captains said. Of course, the pilots like any merger that can keep them flying. Comparing the uniform designs of the two airlines, one of the captains said, "I'll wear pink as long as they keep paying me."

With the river cruising race back in full swing, TC hears that Ama Waterways is gearing up to launch a sister ship in 2011 to this year's Amabella, which was devoted to the Australian market. Ama has its sights on even more dining options and larger cabins. Speaking of which, there is starting to be some contention in the river cruise market about what exactly defines a "suite," after Avalon Waterways last month came out with plans for the 2011 Avalon Panorama, which the operator deemed its first "suite ship." The Panorama's staterooms will range from 172 to 200 square feet. But one river cruising vet was adamant that the true definition of a suite is a cabin with two rooms, and not just an additional love seat or armchair.

This column appeared in the June 14 issue of Travel Weekly.

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