Airline Consolidation and Labor: A View From the Cockpit

In this podcast episode, AAI President Diana Moss sits down with two airline pilots, Kelly Ison and Eric McEldowney, to talk about the effect of airline consolidation on labor workforces. There have been almost 20 airline mergers involving U.S. carriers in the last two decades, six of which have involved mergers of major legacy and low-cost carriers. Today, the sector is dominated by a tight oligopoly of carriers. But consolidation continues, with merger proposals such as JetBlue and Spirit, joint ventures like the Northeast Alliance codeshare, and increasing complexity in the international immunized airline alliances. While the effect of consolidation on consumers remains important, not enough has been said about effects on labor. This episode fills this gap. Moss, Ison, and McEldowney do a deep dive into airline consolidation and how it affects pilots. Their discussion ranges from changes in the industry since airline deregulation in the late 1970s, to consolidation and loss of competition, to policy proposals for promoting competition in airlines for the benefit of airline labor forces.


Diana Moss, President, American Antitrust Institute


Kelly Ison began his airline career as a pilot for Piedmont Airlines, serving as Chair of the ALPA Negotiating Committee, and leading high-profile projects for US Airways. Kelly is a Captain for American Airlines on the Airbus 320. He is Chair of the International Alliance Committee for the Allied Pilots Association and a member of APA’s strategic planning team. He lectures on airline economics and competition at the University of Westminster’s Aviation Masters program.

Eric McEldowney grew up wanting to be a pilot. He took his first biplane ride at the Flying Circus in Bealeton, VA at age 10 and was hooked. Eric built his flying experience through instruction, flying air ambulance, and commuter airlines. He has 23 years of experience flying at major airlines and is presently a captain on the Airbus 320. Eric currently serves on the APA’s Strategic Planning Committee.

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