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Airline mega-merger has little local impact

February 18. 2013 2:04PM
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PITTSTON TWP. – The proposed merger of two of the nation’s largest airlines probably will not have an impact on the area’s airport, at least in the short term, according to the head of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport.
Barry Centini said the marrying of American Airlines and US Airways, which have agreed to merge in an $11 billion deal that would create the world’s biggest airline, is only a continuation of a trend the industry has seen over the past decade. If approved, it would be the seventh merger since 2005.
But as to what affect it could have locally, “it’s just too early to tell what if anything,” Centini said. “For now, I expect it will be pretty much the status quo.”
U.S. Airways flies twice daily from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton to Charlotte and six times a day to Philadelphia. Centini said he doesn’t expect those flights to change, since they’re usually filled and they offer this region’s residents connecting flights to the rest of the country and the world.
American does not fly in or out of Wilkes-Barre/Scranton but had a daily Chicago flight that was scrapped a year ago. United Airlines still flies to Chicago from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.
In an industry that faces rising fuel prices and stiffer competition, Centini said he’s not surprised to see merger after merger, but it’s the nature of the business. He said smaller independent airlines, including Allegiant, which began flying twice-a-week flights to and from Orlando/Sanford, Fla. last year, might benefit from the mergers as their competitive prices can be more attractive.
In addition to the Orlando, Charlotte and Philadelphia flights, area travelers also are able to fly Delta Airlines to Atlanta and Detroit or United Airlines to Newark.

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