Airline Futures Affect Operations in Hub Cities

Posted on August 16, 2002 by LCT Staff - Also by this author - About the author

PHILADELPHIA & CHARLOTTE, N.C. - US Airways, with major hubs in Charlotte, N.C., and Philadelphia, became the first major airline to declare bankruptcy, announcing the decision on Aug. 11, exactly eleven months after the terrorist hijackings.

Limousine operators in these major hub cities are bracing for what could turn into a detrimental situation, should airlines begin cutting back on flights. Andy Thompson, who operates a limousine company in Charlotte, a major US Airways hub, said he is not yet concerned about business being affected because the airline has yet to make flight cutbacks.

"Our corporate people are going to continue to fly and the majority of our regular/repeat business is corporate flyers, who have to get to and from," he said. Thompson estimates that airport trips make up about 65 percent of his business.

Should the airline make cuts, he expects to see a similar situation to what happened after Sept. 11. "We had a lot more people taking local trips and provided ground transportation to surrounding areas like Raleigh and Atlanta. If the airlines cut back we will do more out of town trips with our buses," said Thompson, who has four minibuses, as well as sedans and limousines.

"After Sept. 11 we made revenue on long distance trips," he added.

Adam Greene, operations manager for Park Avenue Luxury Limousine in Philadelphia, said that flight cutbacks in Philadelphia would hopefully be picked up by another airline.

"It won't be as many direct flights, it would all be going through another city, but that's just the way it'll have to be done," he said. Greene added that although the major airlines come through Philadelphia, they would not offer as many flights as US Airways, who uses the city as a hub.

"Pittsburgh is another hub and we're hoping, if anything happens, we could feed off that because Pittsburgh is so close," he said.

Joan Martin, who operates a operation on the outskirts of Charlotte, said that US Airways recently stopped operating one of their flight segments between Charlotte and Hickory, N.C.

"The people who used to ride that plane are either getting rental cars, driving themselves, or having us make several stops," Martin said. She charges $85 for the 50-plus mile trip.

United Airlines announced on Wednesday, August 14 that it might file for bankruptcy protection by mid-November if it did not receive concessions within a month, according to the New York Times. Operators in Chicago are not as worried because the area is a busy one for air travel and more than just one airline makes multiple flights into and out of the airport.

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