For a city that prides itself as a financial center, the city’s power structure often times is so completely naive. Case in point: The UPoR’s Friday front page article proclaiming that “US Airways-American merger has an upside for Charlotte, CEO says”
Here’s a rule for assessing job and service claims made when they’re trying to sell a merger: Don’t put any stock in them. Such statements are self-serving, especially in the airline industry. It really is that simple. There have a long list of claims made that mergers won’t hurt communities that have turned out to be false, like that the Delta Air Lines/Nortwest Airlines merger won’t adversely effect the airlines’ hubs in Cincinnati and Memphis — it did — or that no cities would lose service as a result of the Southwest Airlines/AirTran merger. Asheville was among the 15 or so cities that lost service soon after the merger was closed.
And there’s a more fundamental problem: If you’ve ever listened to US Airways conference calls, management stresses again and again that consolidation is good because it reduces industry capacity. So how does Charlotte gain flights then? It can only come from shifting flights from other existing hubs. The very act of weakening other hubs — be they in Dallas, Chicago, or Philadelphia — actually makes it harder to make new destinations work from Charlotte. A weaker American hub post merger in Chicago, for example, would make the American brand less attractive in, say, Moline, IL, which would make the already difficult job of making Moline–Charlotte flights work even harder.