Following the decadelong-plus bloodletting at Pittsburgh International Airport by US Airways of its former fortress hub, the federal government continued the anti-“fly Pittsburgh” movement this past Tuesday (“Airline Facilities Here Left Weak by Merger,” Nov. 13).
By allowing US Airways and American Airlines to merge, creating the world’s largest airline, the federal government failed to protect the flying public by assuring the industry one less industry player and further handcuffing many cities with less competition and surely higher airfares.
More damaging on the short term for Pittsburgh will be the almost certain loss of the state-of-the-art flight operations center operated by US Airways. With the approval of the merger, US Airways will probably close the Pittsburgh center funded greatly by local taxpayers. American’s flight operations center at Dallas-Fort Worth — close to the merged airline headquarters — would benefit from Pittsburgh’s demise.
Pittsburgh will surely also lose some much-needed flights and route competition as the two airlines merge into one.
The federal government played dead possum by dancing with the devil in assuring competition grows at its own Reagan National Airport by accepting that the combined airlines turn over 44 daily flights to lower-cost airlines.
One piece of action by the federal government that ironically would have helped Pittsburgh International’s cause when she was a hub is the several-year freeze on hub airport service and traffic numbers — making it very difficult for the merged airline to slash flights and routes at any of its hubs for the next three years.
In Pittsburgh our only hope is that the regional market is large enough to grow local air traffic, as once again the city will likely take the hardest hit in the never-ending US Airways saga.