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Airport could see benefit from airline merger

Madison Mathews • Feb 14, 2013 at 6:55 PM

The merger of American Airlines and US Airways won’t have any immediate impact on the Tri-Cities Regional Airport, according to airport officials.

In fact, the deal could potentially have some major benefits for the regional airport.

“We would not see a merger reducing any service we currently have. We’re hopeful that a healthier, larger, hopefully more profitable combined American Airlines would potentially have an opportunity to add aircraft into their fleet, which may present Tri-Cities an opportunity to be served the additional destinations in the future by American,” Tri-Cities Airport Authority Executive Director Patrick Wilson.

The $11 billion deal was announced Thursday.

According to the Associated Press, the new carrier will be called American Airlines and will be overseen by US Airways CEO Doug Parker.

The merger would create the largest airline in the world, while reducing the number of major U.S. airlines to four: United, Delta, Southwest and American.

Three airways operate at Tri-Cities Regional Airport: US Airways, Delta and Allegiant Air.

American Airlines has served the Tri-Cities at various times throughout the airport’s history. It was the first air carrier to operate at the airport when it opened in 1937, according to Wilson.

The last time American served the Tri-Cities was in January 2012.

Wilson said airline mergers take a long time before consumers begin to see any changes take place. Once the deal has been approved by all of the necessary channels, Wilson said it takes about two years for an airline to consolidate.

“So there really should not be anything of an immediate effect on Tri-Cities, and on a longer term, we hope that a larger airline’s going to create competition. Competition usually has a good effect on keeping fares moderate,” he said.

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