Chairmen Say Few Changes Planned in USAir-Piedmont Merger
DAYTON, Ohio (AP) _ A merged USAir Group Corp. and Piedmont Aviation Inc. will retain the hub cities of both airlines and use the unique route structure and marketing mix of each to USAir’s advantage, Chairman Edwin Colodny says.
Colodny and William Howard, Piedmont’s chairman, toured Dayton International Airport, where Piedmont has a hub, on Tuesday and tried to put to rest rumors that the Dayton hub might be eliminated in favor of USAir’s main hub in Pittsburgh.
″We expect Dayton will complement Pittsburgh,″ Colodny said. ″What we will be doing is giving consumers more choices. This hub already has proved it can operate with Pittsburgh 300 miles away.″
Piedmont currently operates hubs - airports where numerous flights converge to exchange passengers - in Dayton; Syracuse, N.Y.; Baltimore; and Charlotte, N.C. USAir has hubs in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, and will acquire hubs in San Francisco and Los Angeles after merging with Pacific Southwest Airlines.
Colodny said Dayton can expect more flights to the South and West.
″Part of our strategy will be to link more major destinations with cities east of the Mississippi River,″ Colodny said.
Charlotte, with new service to London, will attract more flights from the entire system, he said. Baltimore, despite its proximity to Philadelphia, will remain very strong as a gateway to Washington, D.C., Colodny said, predicting that it could become stronger than hubs run by other airlines at Washington’s Dulles Airport.
The U.S. Department of Transportation, responding to complaints from the Justice Department and three states, has blocked the quick merger of USAir and Piedmont, a deal worth $1.65 billion, while it examines whether it could hurt consumers.
The DOT has given USAir authority to buy as much as 51 percent of Piedmont stock and put it in a voting trust, pending a final decision from Transportation Secretary Elizabeth Dole by Sept. 30.
The complaints are that USAir and Piedmont serve 57 common points and compete in 21 city pair routes. In some markets, they provide the only air service, and officials are concerned that service might be curtailed with the merger.
Colodny said there is little chance of that because the flights come from different hubs, often as the tail end of a route, so there is no reason to drop them. However, flight times might be more spread out during the day, he said.
The merged USAir will have about 38,000 employees, and Howard said few employees will lose their jobs in the merger.