Local News

Midway's Departure To Have Little Impact On RDU International

Posted July 19, 2002

— Morrisville-based Midway Airlines abruptly stopped flying late Wednesday night with little notice to employees or customers. The airline is trying to reorganize and plans to come back in two months operating flights for US Airways.

However, both airlines have many hurdles to overcome to make the deal happen. Midway and US Airways still need the approval of the regulatory board, bankruptcy court, various unions and many others to make the deal happen.

US Airways is working on its own plan to avoid bankruptcy. Just last weekend, the airline secured $465 million in annual savings from its pilots. It is now pressing its last two unions on concessions. The airline would like $261 million in savings from machinists and reservation agents. The Virginia-based airline is also seeking up to $300 million in concessions from various debt holders and suppliers.

"You put two losing propositions together it's difficult to make a winning proposition," said Dr. John Kasarda, an aviation expert from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Kasarda said Midway's departure will have a mild impact on passengers at Raleigh-Durham International Airport.

He believes there may be a small, but not huge, degree of fare changes among the remaining airlines.

"Well, Midway was not a big player, but it was a player," he said. "In certain markets that they flew, they put some competitive pressure on the fares and I would expect to see some of those fares go up."

Kasarda said Midway's closure may mean fewer flights to Florida, a destination the airline had concentrated on. He also warned travelers to expect more flights on smaller planes, since US Airways will take over Midway routes, and replace its 737s with regional jets.

Midway CEO Robert Ferguson said as many as one-third of the 400 Midway employees laid off could be called back when the airline resumes service as US Airways Express in October.

As for Raleigh-Durham International, the

RDU Airport Authority

said it will not sustain a financial hit from Midway's pullout. The airport authority said it has big plans for the space vacated by Midway in Terminal C that could include new carriers.

"We haven't made a final decision, but in terms of that facility, look down the road for it to become the primary terminal at RDU," said John Brantley of the RDU Airport Authority.


Ken Smith


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