Will airline merger impact Winston-Salem?

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C.– As merger talks continue between US Airways and American Airlines, the more than 750 employees at US Airways Winston-Salem Reservations Center are watching and wondering what may happen to their jobs.

“We’re just waiting like everybody else to see what happens. Our office holds a lot of positive for the company our chairman’s, which are our top flyers and we have our rates department, groups department and international. We do a lot for the company,” Vickey Hoots, President of the Communication Workers of America Union which represents most of the employees, said on Wednesday.

Having been through two mergers already, the Winston-Salem US Airways employees say merger talks leave them with a lot of questions.

“We are just trying to figure out what tomorrow is going to bring. You just take it one day at a time and hope for the best,” says Lori Manuel, who has been a reservation specialist with US Airways for 28 years.

Winston-Salem Mayor Allen Joines says keeping the call center and its jobs is important. He said the city is prepared to talk further incentives and strategies to keep the call center here.

“We’ve gone through this a lot with Pepsi and others and we have experience with knowing how to put together a package to retain jobs and if we need to we certainly will,” says Joines.

The city offered US Airways incentives in 2011 when the airline consolidated overseas operations and brought jobs back to the U.S.  Those incentives are still ongoing.

Joines and others hope the Winston-Salem centers long history, size, productivity and large number of experienced employees will bode well for the center if and when a new airline begins talking about merging operations.

American has reservations agents that work in Dallas, Raleigh-Durham and from home.

US Airways has reservation call centers in Winston-Salem, Reno, Nevada and Phoenix.

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