Valley leaders optimistic about U.S. Air merger - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

Valley leaders optimistic about U.S. Air merger

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TEMPE, AZ (CBS5) -

There's no reason to panic.

That's the word from Valley leaders following the announcement that U.S. Airways is merging with American Airlines and moving its corporate headquarters to Ft. Worth, TX.

Tempe mayor Mark Mitchell told CBS-5 that he's had ongoing talks with airline officials and they've assured him that a majority of the 9100 employees U.S. Airways has in the Phoenix area will stay put.

"In terms of maintaining their commitment to keeping corporate presence, here is a good sign," said Mitchell. "That's not to say we may lose some jobs, but we're looking at the long term."

A source who works inside the company told CBS 5 News that he expects 80 to 90 percent of the employees at U.S. Airways corporate headquarters in Tempe to move to American Airlines' headquarters in Texas.

That's around 500-600 people.

However, Mitchell said the airline has already announced plans to maintain a hub in the Valley and increase flights into Sky Harbor Airport, increasing optimism among Valley business leaders that the merger may not be as big of an economic hit to Arizona as some think.

Robert Mittelstaedt is dean of ASU's W.P. Cary School of Business.

He said that the Phoenix market is too important to start cutting back on.

In fact, he said that being part of a larger airline could actually boost Arizona's economy long term.

"One of the things that businesses look at when they want to establish a regional headquarters or put people in place is do we have great access to transportation," said Mittelstaedt. "In that sense, they're part of a bigger, stronger airline. I think that might do more for our economic development than losing a few headquarters jobs."

U.S. Airways employees may also see an additional benefit.

Pilots, baggage handlers, flight attendants and ticket agents could see a nice raise thanks to labor deals worked out with their unions.

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