Last updated: 10:11 AM ET, Fri January 17 2014

American-US Airways Merger Dominos Start to Fall in NY, DC

Airlines & Airports | American Airlines | Rich Thomaselli | January 17, 2014

American-US Airways Merger Dominos Start to Fall in NY, DC

Better keep an eye on that arrival/departure board a little more closely when flying the new American Airlines. As part of a settlement with the Department of Justice to relinquish service to several dozen cities from gates at Washington-Reagan and New York-LaGuardia – a move American agreed to in order to avoid an antitrust lawsuit over its merger with US Airways – the carrier has announced a series of sweeping changes in its service.

So, first the bad news. American will no longer operate year-round daily nonstop service to 17 destinations, which created an opening for 52 daily round-trip flights from Reagan National (DCA).  They are:

Augusta, Ga.

Little Rock, Ark.

Pensacola, Fla.

Detroit, Mich.

Minneapolis, Minn.

San Diego, Calif.

Fayetteville, N.C.

Montreal

Savannah, Ga.

Fort Walton Beach, Fla.

Myrtle Beach, S.C.

Tallahassee, Fla.

Islip (Long Island), N.Y.

Nassau, Bahamas

Wilmington, N.C.

Jacksonville, N.C.

Omaha, Neb.     

Effective dates for the changes at DCA will be announced after the sale of slots and related assets is finalized in the coming weeks, American said. Several airlines are bidding for the 52 coveted slots at Reagan; an announcement is expected soon. Southwest Airlines and Virgin America have already won the bidding to buy the 17 newly opened slots at LaGuardia.

There is a silver lining here though.

American will no longer operate nonstop service to Atlanta, Cleveland and Minneapolis from LaGuardia but made changes in its schedule to provide service to 10 new communities. They include:

Charlottesville, Va.

Little Rock, Ark.

Roanoke, Va.

Dayton, Ohio

Louisville, Ky.

Wilmington, N.C.

Greensboro, N.C.

Norfolk, Va.        

Knoxville, Tenn.                

Richmond, Va.

Customers can begin booking tickets for these new routes Sunday, Jan. 26 for travel beginning April 1.

“We are excited about moving forward as the new American Airlines, which will fly more customers to more places than ever before," Andrew Nocella, senior vice president and chief marketing officer – American Airlines, said in a statement.

“Washington Reagan and LaGuardia will continue to be a key part of the new American's network. In an effort to minimize any impact that our DOJ-required slot divestitures would have on small- and medium-size communities, we felt it was important to make this announcement now. We know how important this service is to the people and the communities affected, and we hope that our competitors who acquire our slots and gates will maintain service to the impacted cities. While these divestitures were necessary, we remain excited about offering new service between LaGuardia and these key communities.”

American Airlines president Scott Kirby made it clear the service changes “are not expected to impace out employees, who efforts and support enabled us to create the world's greatest airline.”

AA said customers in Washington, D.C., and on the West Coast will benefit from other schedule changes, as American will soon add a second daily nonstop frequency between DCA and Los Angeles by shifting US Airways' current San Diego flight to Los Angeles. In addition, American will adjust its service to Fort Myers, Fla., moving from year-round service to a seasonal schedule.

Reuters, citing two unnamed "sources familiar with the matter," says airline bids for the slots have been submitted and that an announcement is imminent.

Follow me on Twitter @RichTravelPulse.

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