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USAirways: Big Cuts At BWI

Tue Oct 09, 2001 9:35 pm

From the Washington Post:

US Airways Plans Sharp Cut in BWI Jet Service
All Direct Flights to Fla. Will Be Eliminated

By Martha McNeil Hamilton and Frank Swoboda
Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, October 9, 2001; Page E01

US Airways is eliminating more than 60 percent of its jet service from Baltimore-Washington International Airport, including all direct flights to Florida, as part of a major cost-cutting program to keep the airline in operation.

The Arlington-based airline is the second-largest carrier at BWI, and with Southwest Airlines it has helped the Maryland facility become one of the major low-fareairports on the East Coast.

US Airways did not announce the cuts, but yesterday it posted its December flight schedule, which eliminates 51 of its 75 mainline jet routes as well as 14 of its 71 US Airways Express flights, all of which are served by turboprop aircraft.

The service cuts by US Airways and other airlines are one major byproduct of the changes in air travel since Sept. 11. Tighter security measures have led to long lines at many airports. Yesterday the Federal Aviation Administration imposed new limits on carry-on luggage, saying passengers would be limited to one carry-on item and one pocketbook or briefcase each.

Maryland economic development and transportation officials said they did not believe the US Airways cuts would have a major impact on BWI because of the airport's growing popularity with other airlines, including AirTran and Delta Express. AirTran is expected to announce today that it will start service at BWI in December with six daily flights to Atlanta and Boston.

"I think the Maryland economy and its strength ensures that there will be a strong market out of BWI for both domestic flights and the growing international business," said David S. Iannucci, Maryland's secretary of business and economic development.

The cuts are part of US Airways' plan to eliminate 23 percent of its operations, along with 11,000 of its employees. Like most other major carriers in the country, US Airways announced cutbacks shortly after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

In addition to flights at BWI, US Airways is eliminating 13 of its 29 daily departures from Dulles International Airport. The remaining Dulles flights, mostly turboprops, are to Charlotte, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.

US Airways has 46,000 employees, including 2,240 at BWI and 131 at Dulles. A spokesman for the airline said the job-cut announcements would not come for several days.

Industry sources said there also could be cuts at Reagan National Airport. US Airways has more flights out of Reagan National than any other carrier but primarily uses aircraft there that it wants to remove from service.

US Airways had planned to eliminate most of its non-shuttle operations at Reagan National as part of its failed effort to merge with United Airlines. The merger plan was rejected by the Justice Department in part because US Airways was planning to sell the operations to a newly created DC Air, headed by Robert L. Johnson, chairman of Black Entertainment Television. A number of other airlines had expressed interest in getting US Airways' access to Reagan National.

Reagan National is one of the few U.S. airports with federal restrictions on how many flights it can handle, making it difficult for other airlines to gain access.

US Airways had announced to its employees Sept. 21 that it was eliminating its low-fare MetroJet service as part of its retrenchment, but it did not say whether the service would be replaced at BWI. MetroJet has 182 flights to cities in the East and Midwest, 49 of them out of BWI. By eliminating MetroJet, US Airways will get rid of its gas-guzzling fleet of Boeing 737-200 jetliners.

Heaviest hit by the cuts are the low-fare flights from BWI to Florida. US Airways is eliminating all direct flights from BWI to Fort Lauderdale, Jacksonville, Orlando and Tampa. In addition, direct flights to Chicago's Midway Airport will be scrapped. US Airways' BWI passengers traveling to Florida would have to go through Charlotte, Pittsburgh or Philadelphia.

The airline also is ending flights to Providence, R.I., and Manchester, N.H., where it has provided low-fare competition to Southwest Airlines for several years.

"I think it has been widely expected in the industry as well as at BWI" because of the difficulties US Airways, with its high cost structure, faced in competing with such low-cost carriers as Southwest, said Jay Hierholzer, a former director of marketing at BWI who now heads JTH Marketing & Communications. "BWI has been so successful in developing a market that, as much as they regret to see the loss of the US Airways flights, as the market rebounds others are likely to come in."

Southwest, in the meantime, inaugurated new service to Norfolk yesterday from four airports, including BWI. The other origination points are Las Vegas, Orlando and Jacksonville, Fla.

In a related development, several national associations of states, counties, cities and local officials called on Congress to provide financial aid to airports and airport authorities. Airports have lost revenue from airport closures and the downturn in travel at the same time they have had to spend more on federally mandated security measures. As a result, several credit-rating agencies have raised concerns about the airports' ability to pay their bondholders.

Staff writer Sabrina Jones contributed to this report.

© 2001 The Washington Post Company

Hopefully not too little too late.


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Joined: Fri Apr 21, 2000 5:03 am

RE: USAirways: Big Cuts At BWI

Tue Oct 09, 2001 11:59 pm

These cuts are unfortunately not too surprising. Southwest has routed US at BWI, and now US is simply retreating faster than they would have before 9/ 11.

Notice that US is cutting far less US Airways Express service than mainline service. Much of this USX service is to cities that Southwest doesn't serve--ROC, SYR, GSO, RIC, YYZ. All of these cities have temporarily lost their mainline US jet or US ERJ service to DCA. Some of them might lose it permanently. None of them have US service to IAD.

IF anything, US should be beefing up service to these cities temporarily because the seat capacity to DCA was far higher. US flew 390 nonstop seats a day on DCA-ROC; they fly 148 on BWI-ROC. That's a capacity cut of 70 percent, far more than any actual drop in traffic. These cities' Congresspeople should have a talk with Mr. Wolf.

Southwest also should give serious consideration to jumping into ROC and SYR at this opportune moment and seize market share.

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