At AAG, the Votes are In ….

It’s often been said that the early days of a merger (including the days leading up to closing the deal) are extremely critical, especially when the cultures of the two organizations have little in common.

img_aa_newamerican2No doubt more than a few major airlines have learned this lesson the hard way, including US Airways when it joined forces with America West. So it’s not a huge surprise then to see one of the first steps taken by new American Airlines Group’s Doug Parker (who now heads the combined US Airways and American Airlines) was to seek the input of the airline’s 60,000 workers in selecting a new logo.

As a story posted yesterday by the Wall Street Journal (subscription required) points out …

Workers were invited to vote on the so-called livery as part of the new American Chief Executive Doug Parker’s effort to woo his new employees. They narrowly voted to jettison the carrier’s old AA logo and stick with new branding unveiled last year just before the merger agreement that created the world’s largest carrier.”

Roughly 52 percent of the employees reportedly voted for the new design, which would be limited to the tail. “Announcing the vote, Mr. Parker said the fuselage design with the new American logo … would have to stay because the company had already put that logo in too many places,” according to the Journal story.

Whether you’re a fan of the new logo or not (I’ve yet to reach an opinion one way or the other), you have to credit Parker for taking this modest step of bringing employees together in choosing the new logo. True, there are a lot more pressing issues facing the combined entity than selecting a logo. But it does send a simple yet subtle message that we’re all in this together.

As my colleague Senior Editor Andrew McIlvaine noted in a story posted last March on our website, the merger between US Airways and American Airlines will be, if nothing else, a combination of two very different corporate cultures. (The deal finally closed in early December)

In the words of executive-search consultant Kurt Weyerhauser, “the cultures at American Airlines and US Airways might be considered almost diametrically opposed to one another.”

So with the logo votes now tallied, AAG’s HR leaders obviously have their work cut out for them in the months ahead. A few years from now, it should be interesting to look back and see if some of the lessons of the past were learned and applied to this latest merger. (As a regular US Airways customer—being based near Philadelphia, one of the airline’s hubs, it’s hard not to be—my fingers are crossed that turns out to be the case.)

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