Wednesday, February 20, 2008 |

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Airline Mergers

Charlotte Faces Loss of Hub Status and Potential for Big Service Cuts


The Charlotte Observer

US Airways' unsolicited bid Wednesday to take over Delta Air Lines stoked one of Charlotte's biggest fears: loss of its coveted hub status.

Airline analysts said the merged airlines could bring deep service cuts to Charlotte/Douglas International Airport, but US Airways executives said operations in Charlotte would remain robust.

US Airways' Charlotte hub has been credited with attracting corporate headquarters and other businesses that desire plentiful nonstop flights. The carrier's dominance has also left fliers grumbling about high fares and a lack of choice.

Because Delta's main hub, Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, is only 240 miles from Charlotte, a US Airways-Delta merger is a particular worry for Charlotte, which has nonstop service to 123 cities -- a high number for a city its size. Without the hub, the number of daily flights drops from 600-plus to about 240, Charlotte Aviation Director Jerry Orr said.

"Charlotte is vulnerable," said David Rowell, a travel industry consultant and publisher of The Travel Insider.

US Airways President Scott Kirby said Charlotte would likely see reductions in the number of flights to some cities but that the new airline would continue to serve all of its nonstop destinations from Charlotte. The city has 541 US Airways flights daily, making it the Tempe, Ariz.-based carrier's largest hub.

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