Augusta Regional Airport hopes to reconnect with Dallas in wake of airline merger
Last week’s announcement of the $11 billion merger of American Airlines and US Airways brought a new sense of optimism in Augusta Regional Airport’s ongoing negotiations to bring back American Eagle’s daily nonstop between Augusta and Dallas, a route that was lost after parent company American Airlines filed for bankruptcy protection in January of last year.
“This merger might present a better opportunity for us to get it back because it gives them an advantage to get more direct flights,” says Communications Manager Lauren Smith. “It broadens the opportunity for everyone.”
American Eagle operated the Augusta-Dallas flight from June 2010 through January 2012 and gave Augusta Regional its much sought after third carrier, joining Delta, which offers daily flights to its hub in Atlanta and US Airways, which flies direct to its hub in Charlotte.
In July of last year, US Airways added a daily nonstop to Washington, D.C.,
Despite almost an entire year without the Dallas route and only gaining the Washington route midyear, Augusta Regional still posted record numbers for the third year in a row, beating 2011’s numbers by more than 14,000 travelers.
“We’re fortunate that we haven’t seen the decreases that other airports have,” Smith says.
The Dallas connection proved popular with business travelers, the military and leisure flyers alike because of its proximity to West Coast destinations.
The merged company, which will be called American Airlines, will have more than 900 planes and offer close to 3,200 daily flights, and though aviation experts anticipate American’s hubs, including Dallas, will prosper as the new company tries to maximize its assets, some feel US Airways operations in Charlotte might not fare so well.
Charlotte Douglass International Airport is currently US Airways’ busiest hub, yet three quarters of the 39 million passengers connect to other flights, which might be more efficiently handled through American’s other hubs.
Even more troubling for Charlotte is the fact that US Airways accounts for approximately 90 percent of the airport’s daily flights, an all or nothing situation Augusta officials have worked hard to avoid by continually striving to add additional carriers.
Smith acknowledges that in addition to her continued efforts to court American as it’s maneuvered its way through the bankruptcy process, Director of Marketing Dianne Johnston has also maintained a good working relationship with US Airways representatives. However, that doesn’t mean they have their sights set only on reconnecting with Dallas.
“We look at where our travelers are going once they leave here,” Smith says. “We take that into consideration to see what the local community would like to see and what would be beneficial to them, and I think New York and a Florida destination would be the next possible ones for us.”
Currently, Augusta’s commercial side has 17 arrivals and 17 departures each day, with an overall increase in traffic of 102 percent since 2006. You Might Also Like: