English: Frontier Airlines N929FR at FLL. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Frontier Airlines – with new owners, a new management team, and a new logo on its planes – is coming to Philadelphia with flights to seven cities.
Denver’s hometown airline will announce Tuesday nonstop flights from Philadelphia International Airport to Miami, Orlando, and Tampa, Fla., and Cancun, Mexico, in December, and to Atlanta, Charlotte, N.C., and Chicago next spring.
“These are underserved markets with very high fares,” Frontier chief executive officer David Siegel said. “We’re going to expand the market, stimulating it with low fares and dropping in a little bit of capacity.”
Frontier hasn’t flown scheduled service from Philadelphia since January 2013, soon after it began flights from Trenton-Mercer Airport.
Yet while Fitzgerald points to improved employment, production and tourism as signs of the region’s economic vitality, growth at Pittsburgh International is stalled.
“I can’t explain it,” Fitzgerald said of the incongruity between the region’s surging economy and an airport that is scuffling in its core business of flying.
The airport was on pace through November to post its lowest annual passenger total since opening in 1992, according to the latest data. It recently learned that 600 airline jobs will vanish when the new American Airlines, created through a merger with US Airways, closes a flight operations center in Moon by next year. An unused section of one concourse in the $1 billion airport remains walled-off. The airport doesn’t have a CEO.
Map of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, United States with township and municipal boundaries (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Built less than six years ago, a state-of-the-art flight operations control center in Moon will be closing and the work transferred to Texas, a casualty in the American Airlines-US Airways merger.
American Airlines announced Friday that it intends to consolidate flight operations in Dallas-Fort Worth over the next 18 months, costing the region a facility built specifically for the needs of US Airways and the 600 jobs that go with it.
“It’s pretty sad for the people that have been here for a long time,” said Danny Persuit, president of Transport Workers Union Local 545, which represents 164 employees at the center.
In a separate action, American also plans to transfer 53 mechanics out of Pittsburgh in what it said was an annual maintenance “rebalancing” unrelated to the merger.
An American Airlines Boeing 757-223 landing at Vancouver International Airport (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Finally, it’s a done deal.
American Airlines AMR Corp. and US Airways Group Monday officially announced the completion of their merger to form American Airlines Group Inc., the world’s largest airline.
At 7:40 a.m., the secretary of state in Delaware, Jeffrey Bullock, filed a certificate of merger. The new company is incorporated in Delaware.
US Airways CEO Doug Parker, who will lead the new American, will ring the opening bell on the Nasdaq stock market at 9:30 a.m. eastern time, signifying the the opening of trading of the new American’s shares on Nasdaq. Ticker: AAL.
In a meeting last week with pilots, US Airways CEO Doug Parker said the carrier may close its state-of-the-art operations control center in Moon in “a couple years” as a result of its merger with bankrupt American Airlines.
If Mr. Parker’s prediction holds true, it would be the latest blow to a region that has seen US Airways slash more than 10,000 jobs and hundreds of flights over the past decade. The airline also eliminated its Pittsburgh hub in 2004 — 12 years after the midfield terminal, built to its specifications, opened to support the airline’s growing needs. US Airways now has about 1,800 employees in the region.
Closing the operations control center would cost the region another 700 jobs. The 72,000-square-foot building opened in November 2008 after Pennsylvania and Allegheny County officials outbid Charlotte, N.C., and Phoenix for the facility. It combined a center in Findlay that US Airways had operated for 11 years and a smaller one in Phoenix, the result of the carrier’s 2005 merger with America West Airlines.
The airline industry took a decisive step toward greater concentration on Thursday with the announcement that American Airlines and US Airways had agreed to merge, forming the nation’s biggest airline. The merged airline, to be called American, leaves just three major carriers — Delta Air Lines and United Airlines too — able to offer extensive domestic and international service, a sharp contraction over the last decade.
But while airline executives argue that mergers are good for passengers because they bring more service to more destinations, some economists and consumer advocates warn that all this consolidation comes at a price for travelers.
With fewer carriers, passengers have fewer options; fares and fees are now more likely to go up, particularly for flights between midsize cities. And more cities, especially smaller ones, can expect to see further reductions in service.
“It’s much easier to have tacit collusion with just three airlines,” said George Hoffer, a transportation economist at the University of Richmond. “It’s not illegal. But it’s like having a few big people in a small boat. Anyone’s decisions tie you all together.”
Aerial photo of Lehigh Valley International Airport (IATA: ABE, ICAO: KABE) in Hanover Township, 2005 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Anyone walking into Lehigh Valley International Airport will notice the shiny new terrazzo floor, the modern glass architecture and the new LV Cafe — the result of a $14 million makeover that took three years.
But what is also noticeable is that lately there are relatively few passengers to enjoy the new amenities.
Passenger traffic has plummeted at LVIA after three airlines left in the past year, and airport administrators will soon announce “austerity” measures that could include job cuts, fee increases and business contract reviews.
Analysts say it’s part of a national trend in which skyrocketing fuel costs have prompted air carriers like American to pull their planes from smaller regional airports. And with no relief in sight for jet fuel prices that are up 443 percent over a decade ago, it’s a situation that’s likely to get worse before it gets better.