Some hotels, restaurants voice concerns about potential merger

by: Holly Maynard Updated:


CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Hotels and restaurants in the Charlotte area are concerned about what could happen to their businesses if a merger between US Airways and American Airlines happens.

US Airways operates about 90 percent of the flights at Charlotte Douglas, so any major changes to the airline could greatly affect travelers here, the airport and the local economy.

That's why some restaurants and hotels sent a letter to Mayor Anthony Foxx and City Council, voicing some concerns about a potential merger.

Justin Karas, who owns Newk's Cafe in Blakeney and uptown, told Eyewitness News his business is successful in part because of the thousands of travelers that come through the airport each day.

"They're coming in, eating at our restaurants, they're staying at the hotels if they're overnight flights," he said.

Karas is one of the more than 1,500 business owners who belong to the Charlotte chapter of the Restaurant and Lodging Association. In the group's letter to city leaders, members expressed appreciation for what US Airways has done for Charlotte, but also apprehension about a merger.

"I think we've seen a lot of mergers go really bad," Karas said.

Doug Parker, the CEO of US Airways, has said if a merger happens, the airline would be based in Texas and would keep the American name.

"What we would like to see is an official pledge to the City of Charlotte that they do not plan to decrease flights should a merger happen," Karas said.

Eyewitness News took that request to US Airways. The airline said it is committed to Charlotte. If the merger happened, Charlotte would still be a hub, and the number of flights is expected to increase from 650 daily to more than 700.

In a statement, the airline also said the merger would give Charlotte travelers access to a larger international network. Further, "Our networks would provide better service and improve competition with new United and new Delta than either does today on their own."

The airline also has a history of growth at Charlotte Douglas. Its number of departures has grown by 15 percent in the past four years and it has added more international service.

Eyewitness News also contacted city leaders, many who didn't want to comment on the possibility of a merger yet. However, Councilman Andy Dulin said he's confident the airport will stay strong.

"It has the lowest boarded passenger cost in the nation at the Charlotte airport. That makes it very attractive for a company like US Airways to do business here, and I'm confident after a merger they'll continue to do that," Dulin said.

Mayor Foxx's office said he did receive the letter from the hotels and restaurants and he plans on speaking with US Airways about it soon.