Even a new mega-carrier airline doesn’t need dozens of service hubs. According to recent reports, once the dust has settled from the American Airlines and US Airways merge, there will be a good many airports left with no service from the new super-carrier.
It’s believed that Los Angeles, New York, Dallas-Fort Worth, Miami and Chicago are most likely to remain in use, leaving thousands of loyal customers stranded in the cities that aren’t chosen. While even the biggest airline in the world doesn’t need hundreds of hubs, the fact remains the merger will greatly increase the number of potential passengers needing to get from point A to point B. Aviation experts agree that limiting service to eight hubs would hurt the merged carrier, making things too complex and just not able to meet enough travel needs for potential passengers. The hubs most at risk? US Airway terminals in Charlotte, North Carolina, Philadelphia and Phoenix.
The possibility of service loss has quite a number of chambers of commerce, mayors and airport managers worried and putting together plans to pitch why their cities should stay on the list of active hubs. When you stop and think about it, hubs aren’t just landmarks but are major sources of incomes for the areas they are located in. Frequent flights in and out make each hub an enticement for both business and leisure travelers. When you think of the billions of dollars spent by state and local governments for airport improvements, if an airline pulls their service from a particular airport, it devalues those investments and hurts the local economy.
US Airways execs have stated that the plan is to keep all eight hubs used by both airlines. However, past mergers of other carriers have often resulted in fewer hubs being kept in service in the long run. US Airways had already begun winding down service in Pittsburgh since 2001. The slowdown and eventual leaving has resulted in thousands of jobs lost and whole terminals no longer in use. Service dropped from over 20 million to less than 8 million passengers each year. The 2001 buyout of Trans World by American’s parent company, AMR, resulted in TWA’s St. Louis hub shortly after over $1 billion dollars spent to build a new expanded runway.
The new mega- carrier will be based in Texas near the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport. The move will cause a huge loss for Phoenix where US Airways was based.