American Airlines Chief Integration Officer Bev Goulet retires this month, after ushering in the largest merger in aviation history, but she will leave a major challenge to her successors.
Executive Vice President and Chief Integration Officer Bev Goulet retires this month to a great deal of fanfare and the satisfaction of leading the integration of two of the largest airlines in the world without the hiccups that have hampered previous mergers within the industry. In fact, Goulet’s tenure at her most recent duties has been so successful that she is considered irreplaceable. The remaining work of combining US Airways and American Airlines will soon become the responsibility of individual executives rather than a central integration officer.
“We still have several large integration projects underway, including moving all flight attendants to one system and shifting to a single maintenance platform,” American Airlines CFO Derek Kerr said in a statement praising Goulet’s 24-year career at the airline. “But with many of the day-to-day integration efforts behind us, we have the opportunity to refocus on traditional Corporate Development work and return that role to its roots by aligning it with Treasury and Risk Management.”
In February, Goulet told the Dallas Business Journal that there were three major issues to solve before the new American Airlines could be considered fully integrated. She noted that a new human resources and payroll platform that could handle the combined airlines’ more than a half million employees still needed to be put in place, and the two legacy carriers still needed to settle on unified protocols and language for technical operations. Goulet said, however, that she considers getting flight attendants together on a common system to be the most pressing items on the intergration to-do list, as well as one of the most challenging.
In August of last year, the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA-CWA) approved a joint contract unifying flight attendants from the two legacy carriers under the same collective bargaining agreement. Currently, however, cabin crew still work as either US Airways crews or American Airlines crews. Last month, the airline told the Star-Telegram that plans to integrate flight attendants have been pushed back until at least 2018.
According to The Dallas Morning News, despite Goulet’s departure and the recent deadline postponement, airline officials still consider uniting flight attendant operations to be job number one when it comes to realizing integration plans.
“It really is the most complex piece of the integration,” Goulet told the newspaper just days before her planned departure. “There’s an enormous amount of programming that has to go on to get the legacy American system to a point where it can function properly in delivering the joint collective bargaining agreement that was negotiated.”