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US Airways CEO Doug Parker told pilots that the only issue that’s been raised in the run-up to approval for a merger with American Airlines is the demand by JetBlue and others that the new American give up some slots at Reagan National Airport in Washington, D.C.
The merged airlines would control 67% of the slots at DCA.
Parker isn’t happy about the dust-up. “JetBlue’s out there arguing we should divest slots,” Parker said, adding that it would be small cities and airports that would suffer if the new American were forced to sells some slots at the airport.
He said forcing more low cost carriers into DCA would be a “terrible policy decision.”
In a recent meeting with US Airways pilots, Parker addressed the issue in what he described as his “rant:”
“And if we have to reduce flying we’re going to reduce it to the place we make the least money, which is going to be the smallest communities. And you’re going to go give them to Jet Blue who’s going to fly to Orlando and Boston and LaGuardia, all the places we already serve with tons of service or someone else serves. So all you’re going to do is just get more service to cities that already have a ton of service and you’re going to take it away from places like Iceland or Des Moines.
“I don’t know where, by the way, because we haven’t done this analysis. But we’ll have to cancel something and we’re not going to cancel an Orlando. We’re going to cancel something that’s much smaller than that and they’re going to add an Orlando. So I think it’s terrible policy.
“First off, it’s not the law so anyone that’s doing this is doing it because, well, I know it’s not the law but you know you guys are asking so it’s the policy decision we want to make. As a country we just think there should be more low cost carriers in DC. So that’s our policy decision; it’s a terrible policy decision because it’s going to result in worse service to the country because you’re going to have more planes flying to big cities and not as many to the small cities. So anyway, there’s my rant. Feel free to use it anywhere you can.“
Not everyone agree’s with Parker’s analysis that the new American would be permitted to drop smaller cities in any slot-divestment deal.
Diana Moss, vice president of the American Antitrust Institute, who appeared at Senate Judiciary committee hearing with Parker and others March 19, challenged Parker’s views on what would happen if the new American were forced to trade away some slots.
Moss noted that divesting slots serving small- and medium-size cities would not be a solution since doing so wouldn’t assuage antitrust concerns.
But, Moss was very reasonable in her arguments — no rants.