Airline merger could mean more destinations and higher prices - WECT TV6-WECT.com:News, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

Airline merger could mean more destinations and higher prices

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NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WECT) – The announcement of two major airlines merging into one has generated a number of concerns and questions from passengers flying in and out of Wilmington International Airport.

Director Jon Rosborough said people will suspect that one less carrier could mean a major increase for ticket prices. The smaller airport, considered a spoke in Charlotte's hub, will see only slight increases, according to Rosborough. He said American Airlines joining with U.S. Air, which handles about 70% of the flights at ILM, will keep customers in mind when it comes to setting prices.

"They have to keep the people in their seats," he said. "They have to keep the planes full, so I think they're very sensitive to that."

Some passengers are not as worried about prices at the Port City's hanger. Greg Coffey, of Ocean Isle Beach, said he continues to pay $80-$100 less than his business partners on the same flights in Charlotte. When he heard about the merger, Coffey's mind jumped to his frequent flyer miles and his 25-year-old U.S. Air card.

"I never take it out of my wallet," said Coffey. "It's the small things that happen and are important to you."

Rosborough said the merger should have a positive impact on ILM in the long run. It'll take months to be finalized. Still, Rosborough said it will likely be approved because the two companies have been preparing for this for almost a year.

"They basically know what, if any, issues are out there," said Rosborough. "I think it's going to be pretty smooth to watch this thing unfold."

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