INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) - Travelers may soon have one less choice when it comes to flying the friendly skies. It's expected that U.S. Airways and American Airlines will soon merge.
The new company would keep the American name.
Indianapolis International Airport was built for a booming airline business. But since it's opened, the business has been steadily shrinking. A potential merger of U.S. Airways and American Airlines would drop the number of airlines serving Indianapolis to seven.
"But a merger itself shouldn't really impact the total passenger traffic. Just looking at what the perspective merger is and what kind of flight characteristics each airline offers," says Chris Matney, Air Services Director at Indianapolis International.
He says while it's likely a merger would mean fewer active ticket counters at the airport, there likely won't be a great reduction in the number of flights or gates being used.
"When you look at mergers you have to look at what sort of presence both airlines have in the market. U.S. Airways and American Airlines don't have a lot of overlap," says Matney.
American has the fifth most flights with 17 daily departures from Indianapolis to four destinations. U.S. Airways is the fourth largest with 22 departures to four destinations.
Neither flies directly to the others' destinations. But one less airline system is still likely to impact travel.
"We're probably going to see people starting to plan and book further out, because there will be potentially, the possibility of less aircraft, less market and less seats," says Indianapolis travel agent Bethanne Harrison-Brown with The Travel Authority – leisure division of Altour.
Harrison-Brown says it's likely ticket prices will go up and last minute seats will be tougher to get.
"The airlines typically only offer so many seats at a certain fare. Once those seats are gone, I can get you on that aircraft, its going to cost you typically $50 to $100 more and so on and so on," she says.
The key will be to plan ahead.
If a merger moves forward and gets government approval, when it's done the U.S. will have only four nationwide airlines.
Only three of the old "legacy" airlines – Delta, United, the new American, and Southwest – are still regional carriers, including Indianapolis based Republic.
But the options travelers will have as a passenger are fading fast.
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The historic Wishard Memorial Hospital is now closed for good and the new Eskenazi Health facility is open for business.