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US Airways Launches Major Trans-Atlantic Expansion In Charlotte

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Earlier this weekend, US Airways loaded a major trans-Atlantic expansion for its Charlotte Douglas hub into its schedules. It will be launching the following new routes from the Queen City, where US controls nearly 90% of the market. (airchive.com) More...

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PhotoFinish
PhotoFinish 1
Charlotte has little O&D traffic, but it has cheap fees, and has been developing into a good sized hub with plenty of critical mass to help support more international expansion. But it's mostly transfer traffic.

Also possibly on the minds of US Airways managers, American may not be as upset at a potentially blocked merger, as US Airways would be.

After emerging from bankruptcy, having shed lots of debts and obligations, AA would be a formidable competitor (even without US). There may be a better merger partner (eg. Alaska) that may provide a better matching route network to better complement AA's network. AA-Alaska wouldn't create the worlds largest airline, but also wouldn't qualify for DOJ objection as easily as US-AA.

Alaska would provide more traffic into AA's current hubs, as well as provide a great hub operation in Seattle, that is a great launching point to Asia (a big growth market).

US mostly provides largely redundant hubs that duplicate AA's hubs that would divide traffic in a combined operation. US's Phoenix is between AA's Dallas and LAX operations. US's PHL is very close to AA's JFK hub. US's CLT hub provides a low cost option to AA's expensive MIA hub, but CLT provides little local O&D traffic of its' own. DCA would provide a market leading hub operation with a strong O&D traffic flow, but brings anti-trust scrutiny with it.

A combined operation would have 5 east coast hubs: MIA, CLT, DCA, PHL, and JFK. At least one or two hubs would need to eliminated or downsized to get the synergies of a combined network.

So US's continuing to strengthen their international flights at CLT is a good hedge against a blocked merger, and/or strengthens CLT's hub status if AA and US do merge.
canuck44
canuck44 1
The only candidate here to disappear would be PHL with delays, high cost and runway shortages. It has a major governance problem. Miami certainly is not on a downsize list. CLT has low cost, great access and good weather.
PhotoFinish
PhotoFinish 1
The problem of keeping too many hubs so close together (besides being ridiculously expensive) is that you divide your traffic over too many points and lose concentration of critical mass, efficiencies and synergies between the operations.

They'll end up having to send many passengers through more connections to get where they want to go. Thus takes more time, burns more fuel, uses more passenger seat miles of aircrafts, resulting in higher fares or lower profits than a company with fewer better distributed hubs.

PHL would definitely a goner, or at least a major downsize. Phoenix also seems like a redundant operation that would need to go or be reduced to near irrelevancy.

But that still leaves FOUR hubs on the east coast (with another two in mid-America. Assuming they eventually get rid of Philly, the remaining 6 hubs between Central and East is still overkill (especially in the east).

Plus, there's nothing north of LA and/or west of Chicago. If they also get rid of Phoenix (too close to DFW and LAX), only leaves LAX as the only west coast hub, with no operation at all in the northwest. Phoenix doesn't add geographic distribution. It just overlaps with and saps energy from the other nearby hubs and does nothing to create a foothold in the northwest, is no better than LAX as a transPacific gateway, and is not better positioned than DFW to get passengers out to/from the east and midwest.

US seems like a much worse fit for American than Alaska would be. US just seems desperate to find a dance partner, since all the other majors are already hitched, including more complementary operations. But everyone else brought more to the table than US Airways.

US Airways is the ugly girl, who kicked AA (the only major dance partner left) while they were down in the hopes of being noticed and hooking up with them under duress. Either it works, and they merge. Or it doesn't, and AA runs away, at the earliest opportunity, and keeps a deep seated hatred for one that kicked'em.
PhotoFinish
PhotoFinish 1
OTOH Philly has more O&D than CLT.

All that CLT has going is beautiful airport infrastructure, and low fees. But it wouldn't be the only well developed airport to be de-hubbed, leaving new terminals as ghost towns and new runways underused. If those low fees ever change, CLT would quickly find itself on the chopping block of an overbuilt combined entity with too many operations.
preacher1
preacher1 1
Personal opinion but I think this DOJ thing will push the merger date far enough out that AA can walk, and will, and if they do, the will remember. IMHO
preacher1
preacher1 1
I personal think PHL will suffer, if not go away, however things go down, just primarily for the reasons you mention. Departure delays aren't the fault of the Airport, it's all ATC congestion and trying to get something in the air, and you really can't fault ATC as it sits under the most congested airspace in the world, BUT you can't explain that to the ones that want to spend money. No amount of facility or infrastructure upgrade will change that. Probably the only reason it has held on so far is a fair amount of O&D traffic.
canuck44
canuck44 1
I guess my point is that adding another runway at PHL is not going to fix the ATC delays but their ruling class think they can add more cost to the airlines for another runway that will not help congestion in the region. That extra cost will drive out the airlines when an option is available...then those that made the decisions will be looking around for someone to blame.
preacher1
preacher1 1
ChrisMD123
ChrisMD123 1
Can't offer any other evidence about the river runway except: http://www.fly.faa.gov/Information/east/zny/phl/frames.htm
preacher1
preacher1 1
I guess it has cheap fees now, but from about 2000 to date, it has been in a continual fight with GSO. Anyone traveling to/from North Carolina that could hit either one has seen this happen on a regular basis. The future will continue to be interesting.
Derg
Roland Dent 3
I am a big fan of that part of the USA. Blue collar music and good climate.
bishops90
Brian Bishop 1
And don't forget sweet tea! Right Wayne?
preacher1
preacher1 1
In years past, I looked at CLT and GSO before any flight, out of FSM or LIT, as my destination was an equal distance from them. At times I even did RDU at times when both of them got high and/or I had the time. CLT was at times $11-1200 and GSO about $400. Then they would equalize. This was either DAL over ATL or in the NWA days, over MEM. GSP would have been nicer than RDU but it wasn't available then. Just like right now, CLT is down by about $200 on DAL. Give it a couple of months and it will reverse.
Derg
Roland Dent 1
I thought you were "0n the tools" Wayne. I had no idea you were into the MBA stuff. Commendable but at the end of the day your job is to get your ship from A to B on schedule and with zero incidents. The money side of stuff should not be in the mind of a ship's captain. OK I know you are involved in the trucking business but you cannot carry the balance financial responsibility on top of the job at the hard end.
preacher1
preacher1 1
Well, I WAS involved in trucking after I retired the first time in 09, but stayed current and then came back to work for the old company after the truckline got sold out from under me. I think I'll be hanging up my spurs for good next spring. Money is money, regardless of what angle you are looking at it from and I think this merger and it's aftermath will be interesting, if it does go thru. This DOJ thing might stretch to the time in December of allowing American to walk away and word on the street is they just might if given the chance. Things are changing so fast, it's hard to keep track of who's on first anymore. I have a hard enough time keeping track of myself, let alone anybody else. LOL
Derg
Roland Dent 2
There is so much petty intimidation these days..duff managers trying to make a name. Women in a man's world can be the worst. The latest scam is to limit the fuel reserves by a certain company here in the UK. In my view the captain decides on the fuel load. Not some half baked Neanderthal nugget sitting in an office with an MBA cert on the wall. Unless I had 40 mins reserve that ship would stay on the stand. The kids today are so scared of losing a job. Really all they have to do is move to Asia or the mid east and all of this intimidation disappears. I just wish the younger guys would see this...there is no need to take a risk with the reserves. Why risk 200 lives for $200? the word "NO" has been drummed out of these kids. Really annoys me.
preacher1
preacher1 1
Well, that is one reason I liked what I did for so long. I always tinkered fuel and left full and could fuel outlying if I wanted to, No question. I got a dose of that while doing fill in and PO'd some folks but, it was Captain's call and it's just whatever your used to. When you get ready to leave an airport and your destination is already publishing a 45minut hold on arrivals, you had better have enough fuel on board, regardless of what the computer says. I Flew with some gals but it was just like young guns of any type, whether they wanted to learn or had a know it all attitude.
Derg
Roland Dent 1
Exactly Wayne. Pride in your job. The favourite tool of these control freaks and some of them, are just plain pathological evil people, are statistics. That's why they send them to higher education. Property and money comes before people.
PhotoFinish
PhotoFinish 1
There's no problem in providing figures that provide enough fuel for better than 99.99% of flights. As long as they're not short with their fuel.

But more importantly, as long as the captain has final say, and is not restricted nor cooerced from carrying the amount of fuel s/he feels is necessary.

Having flights frequently making unnecessary 'emergency' stops for fuel is neither efficient, nor desirable for anyone involved (not pilots, not passengers, not airline planners).

If the number crunchers then a rep for being too short frequently, then pilots won't trust the number, and will take on more fuel than necessary in many more instances than necessary, thereby negating any benefit of being too cheap with the gas calculation.

With the 10's of thousands of flights a day, we don't hear of many fuel emergencies. So the system seems to be working. Either the number is normally reliable, or the captains are adding sufficient fuel when necessary to cover those situations that seem to warrant the extra fuel.
preacher1
preacher1 1
It pretty much is, what with the diversions and fuel loads required for twins but there are still some cases of stupid on both sides from time to time.
PhotoFinish
PhotoFinish 1
I was going to mention the diversions also.

There are tons of those when the weather is unfavorable. The only option for the diversions would be to puts lots of extra fuel of hundreds of planes and keep them all flying for hours until slots open up. Which doesn't make much sense, neithe from a fuel calculation perspective, cost perspective, or environmental impact perspective.

So I figure, as you, that those are a wash, as far as calculating fuel levels.

If you've got to wait an extra 2-3-4-5 hours for your landing slot, might as well be sitting on the ground somewhere.
Derg
Roland Dent 1
Just look at Bart railroad..a nugget manager killed two track workers. some of these people need to behaind bars or in a mental home.
bishops90
Brian Bishop 1
And GSP / SWA is a pretty decent alternative as well. Only an hour away.

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