DesertJets, I agree that Charlotte would probably be built into a superhub. United has been upfront from the beginning that it wants to compete big in the Southeast--they surely envy Delta having taken O'Hare's title, and want a piece of that massive SE region action. Charlotte has a good layout, room to radically rebuild the terminal into a more hub-friendly design, and a strong local economy to generate O&D traffic. Look for more flights to Europe indeed.
(I write all of this undecided on the merits of the UA-US-AA-TW square dance on the table right now. But now that AA has jumped in, UA-US is suddenly a possibility again. Before it was rightly dead in the water on antitrust grounds. But now it needs to be pondered again.)
Philly will do extremely well. Philly is a huge O& D market that was ignored for years, especially by international carriers, because of the proximity of NYC. It's got lots of O& D to support a hub, and it's well located to funnel Mid-Atlantic pax south, west, and transatlantic. The return of LH, the arrival of AF, and US's continued strength there are only the beginning. If Philly figures out some way to get *widely spaced* parallel runways--eg moving UPS and building one south side, or buying land across I-95 and building one North Side--its value as a hub would shoot up even more.
BWI will become a Southwest stronghold as you say. US has decreasing use for it other than as an O& D market where they're competitive, I think, and I don't see how that situation would change with United colors on the planes.
PIT may be the odd man out, but I think it's going to stay in the game, whether with United or someone else. PIT's O& D base can support a 20 million pax hub if not a larger one, and it's not congested and has one of the best connecting terminals in the country. Edwin Colodny made it richly profitable for USAir, and I think it's still going to be a substantial hub, if not on the scale UA would build CLT or PHL.
All that open unused runway and terminal space makes me wonder if PIT is ripe for a WN invasion. Then the O&D and connecting possibilities would swell. AirTran is already building up there. That complex could handle 30 million with little modification and someone will likely make money doing just that. What do others think?
Need a new airline paint scheme? Better call Saul! (Bass that is)