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Continued: Minnesota senators question effects of airline merger on heartland

  • Article by: KEVIN DIAZ , Star Tribune
  • Last update: March 19, 2013 - 9:40 PM

Given that momentum, Horton and US Airways chief executive Douglas Parker faced a string of questions from senators on Tuesday seeking assurances that services to their states will not be cut, eliciting public promises for the benefit of lawmakers from Arizona to Connecticut.

Chief among them was Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, where five airports are served by two airlines. “Iowans ask me about the availability of flights,” said Grassley, the ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee.

“Our intent is to keep all the airlines, keep all the people, and all the markets we serve today,” replied Parker.

The merger would cover some 900 domestic routes served by the two airlines, only 12 of which overlap, the executives said. Rather than cutting routes to small or midsize cities, they argued, the merger would likely give travelers more options.

“US Airways doesn’t fly to Rochester [Minnesota], and American doesn’t fly to Hilton Head [South Carolina],” Parker said. “Together, we will.”

Delta’s dominant position in the Twin Cities means the proposed merger might have less of a direct impact on the region. But Klobuchar said Minnesota travelers still have a long-term stake in the deal. “It can have an effect on consumers with fares, service and the ability to serve markets that we should be concerned about,” she said.

 

Kevin Diaz • kdiaz@startribune.com

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