Inquirer airline reporter Linda Loyd has a story today that I had to write several times in years past: What would happen to PHL, and by extension the regional economy, if US Airways were to merge with another airline, or be forced into Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection again? There's been a lot of chatter lately about that among industry analysts and other talking and blogging heads (this blogging head excepted). Linda's story is rightly hypothetical because, as those she quotes point out, US Airways is not in any kind of merger talks nor is it in the same financial shape it was before its two previous trips to bankrupcy court.
The short answer today to the worst-case scenario is the same as it has been for years. The region's large population means that US Airways hub here is different from those that operate now or have operated over the years in smaller cities, including Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and Memphis. Almost two-thirds of PHL's passengers are "O and D," airline parlance for origin and destination, meaning they start or end trips here. In some hubs, 80 percent of the customers are simply transferring between flights, something they could do at other hubs. That O and D traffic base would over time attract other airline service. Rebuilding international service would take longer, but even there, the big population would keep quite a bit of direct service intact, in my opinion.
Today's story includes thoughts from PHL acting director Mark Gale and a number of other experts on the topic. Read it all here.