Thursday, January 3, 2013

Orr: Merger would be good for Charlotte Douglas

A combination of US Airways and American Airlines would be a positive development for Charlotte's airport, aviation director Jerry Orr said Thursday.

As he's said before, Orr thinks that a merger of US Airways with larger American Airlines would create a bigger route network and the possibility of opening new routes from Charlotte more easily.

Speaking after the airport's monthly advisory committee meeting, Orr said a combined US Airways/American would have the heft to ensure long-term viability. "That's always comforting when one tenant has that much of the business," said Orr. US Airways accounts for about 90 percent of Charlotte Douglas International Airport's daily flights.

Many analysts say Charlotte's hub status would likely be safe in a merger. Other airports haven't had such luck. Pittsburgh, in particular, suffered when US Airways ended its run as a major hub airport following bankruptcy and its merger with America West.

As for ticket prices, many analysts have said they will increase if a merger goes through, since there will be fewer and larger companies competing. Orr isn't so sure. "You can argue that either way," he said. If a merger results in a healthier airline industry, then competition will ultimately be enhanced.

"You can have fierce competition with two or three airlines," said Orr. "To gain the competition, you have to have healthy competitors."

But Orr said he doesn't know when a merger will happen, if it goes through. "Everybody says 'soon,' and they've been saying that for quite some time," said Orr. And if he were a betting man, when would he bet a merger will be announced? "I'm not allowed to bet on city time," said Orr.


Anonymous said...
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Mark Carolla said...

Mr. Orr is right to not bet on city time. An American-US Airways merger would be an uncertain course that could lead to the Pittsburgh or Raleigh experience for CLT. For international routes such as to and from Asia & Europe or Latin America CLT is in abad geographic place as flights from Asia & Europe will pass established AA hubs such as Chicago and New York and Latin America the AA "fortress" of Miami.