Concourses May Be Closed, And Fees Would Rise
The continuing suspense surrounding the proposed US
Airways-Delta merger is wreaking havoc on the nerves of many
employees at both airlines. Officials at Charlotte/Douglas
International Airport can likely relate... as if the merger
happens, it's likely the new carrier would opt to pull out of the
US Airways hub at that airport, to concentrate operations from
Delta's Atlanta hub 230 miles to the south.
Officials at CLT say such a move would certainly hurt in the
short-term, as entire concourses would probably shut down... but in
the end, they say, the airport would survive.
"Let me say it this way: If the hub went away completely and we
had only local passengers, we could pay all of our debt service and
maintenance and operations," said Charlotte/Douglas aviation
director Jerry Orr. "That's the basis of, 'Don't worry, be happy.'
The Charlotte Observer reports CLT would also raise landing fees
-- but Orr says those fees would still be below the average for
other large hub airports. The airport also has a smaller staff, and
less debt than similar airports.
Almost 5,000 employees now work at Charlotte/Douglas -- a number
that could be drastically slashed if the airport loses its hub
Orr says the contingency plan he has should a newly-merged US
Airways/Delta conglomerate pull out of CLT, is a lot like the plan
he envisioned several years ago -- when he thought, as did many in
the industry, that US Airways was going to fold completely.
US Airways officials maintain they would keep Charlotte as a
large hub. Airline president Scott Kirby says Charlotte remains a
lucrative city, due to its large number of business travelers. But
while the airline says CLT would also keep nonstop destinations
such as Frankfurt and London... the airport would lose service.
The airline points to Pittsburgh as an example. US Airways cut
destinations and service from that city two years ago -- but still
maintains a small hub there. The airport now has 60 nonstop
destinations, down from 118 at its peak. Charlotte currently has
123 nonstop destinations.