Cleveland travelers weigh in on airline merger

11:46 PM, Feb 14, 2013   |    comments
Getty Images: Rick Gershon
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CLEVELAND -- If US Airways and American Airlines merge, as anticipated in an annoucement Thursday, travelers will feel the effects, but local airports likely will not.

US Airways and American will become the second largest carrier at Cleveland Hopkins International airport, behind United Airlines.

Neither American nor US Airways has a hub in Northeast Ohio, so the impact of the merger isn't expected to reduce the number of daily flights each airline offers up here. The airlines currently fly 27 flights to seven destinations every day.

The $11 billion deal would create the world's biggest airline, which would be based out of Fort Worth, Texas, and be called American Airlines.

The new company expects to have $40 billion in annual revenue and offer more than 6,700 daily flights to 336 destinations in 56 countries.

US Airways passengers will gain access to American's international destinations, and American's passengers will be able to better connect to smaller U.S. cities that US Airways serves.

People passing through CLE Thursday had many questions about what the merger will mean for them as travelers.

"Where will I check in? What kind of plane will I be on?" was Amy Casner's immediate thought, as she got ready to fly on US Airways Thursday morning.

"I just hope that the designation goes smoothly for [the companies], to make everything easy for us [travelers], " said Patricia Walocko.

Passengers aren't expected to notice any immediate changes. The ticket you are issued is the airline you'll fly.

Another big concern is for frequent flyer miles.

The companies say they'll continue to honor both loyalty programs. The programs will eventually combine, which could bump more travelers up to elite status. 

Traveler Nolan Lamb says he doesn't see less competition as a good thing for consumers.

"Like in any business, when you have less choices, the service goes down and the prices go up," said Lamb.

The business details of the merger between American Airlines and US Airways will be completed in the third quarter of 2013.

A spokesperson for Akron Canton Regional Airport says they are optimistic about the merger.

US Airways currently flies to nine daily destinations from CAK.  The regional airport sees this as an opportunity to expand with American Airlines.


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