With the US Airways / American Airlines merger done this past week, everyone is speculating on change we can expect but in the Dallas / Fort Worth area, I think we can expect change in at least 4 different areas and it’s all good for those in this metropolitan area.
1) American Airlines will slowly return to being the on-time, service oriented airline that it once was. Parker & Company know how to fix operational issues and get planes going where they need to go. I also think we’ll see the benefit of code-share flights through the system to destinations that might well yield lower prices.
2) Southwest Airlines will be unchained on October 13, 2014. On that day, Southwest can fly where it wants to from Dallas Love Field as long as it is in the domestic 48 states. This will not only offer us opportunities to fly non-stop to major cities in the US but it will also put some competitive pressure on American Airlines (and other airlines) on routes to and from the DFW area.
3) Ultra Low Cost Carriers will move quickly to find their toehold at DFW. There is a lot of low-hanging fruit to be had in this area and Spirit Airlines has figured that out. I expect Spirit, Allegiant and Frontier to all try to get gate space and establish operations in this area. Those ULCC airlines will put some competitive pressure on both American Airlines and Southwest Airlines who both could use it in this area.
4) While I think United has missed a huge opportunity in the DFW area over the past 2 years, I have noticed that Delta hasn’t. I expect Delta to work itself more and more into the DFW area and I think they will do this both at DFW and Love Field airports. Delta has been doing very well at establishing point to point flights and encroaching on its competitors territory. They pursue a modest push into markets with the resources that only an airline such as Delta has.
Most airlines know that there is a limited time left to encroach in this market and if you think that airlines executives aren’t worried about Doug Parker, you are only kidding yourself. They know what Parker and his team can do with the resources that AA has and that is a big reason why many attempted to sabotage this particular merger. Parker was never a great threat with US Airways because of the limitations it imposed on him and his team.
I said it two years ago and I’ll say it now: As soon as American Airlines declared bankruptcy, that was the time to move hard into the DFW area. Several airlines missed that opportunity to become entrenched (Virgin America and jetBlue) and some saw the opportunity and grabbed it solidly in their fists (Spirit and Delta).
It’s all good for those living in this area or those wanting to fly to this area. In one year, I believe we will see much better services and air fares that remain competitive. Don’t kid yourself, however, those air fares won’t be predatory. They just won’t be exorbitant. So if you’re waiting for an uber-bargain of the early 2000′s, your wait will be fruitless.