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Airline merger could affect Philadelphia airport

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 14, 2013 at 5:11 pm •  Published: February 14, 2013

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The planned merger of US Airways and American Airlines could have implications for Philadelphia International Airport, possibly increasing the number of international flights and creating more jobs, officials said Thursday.

Philadelphia is a hub for US Airways, which announced earlier in the day that it would merge with American in an $11 billion deal to form the world's largest airline.

City and airport officials were optimistic about the potential impact of the move, which still requires approval from antitrust regulators.

"Increased air service means more opportunities for jobs at the airport and, ultimately, our region," Mayor Michael Nutter said in a statement.

The two airlines collectively have eight hubs across the country, and US Airways CEO Doug Parker said the new combined carrier will keep all of them. But past mergers suggest that's unlikely; American shut down TWA's hub in St. Louis after buying the airline in 2001.

Last month, US Airways signed a two-year lease extension at the Philadelphia airport that also pledged $734 million in improvements, including lengthening a runway to handle long-haul aircraft. Officials at the airport, which served nearly 31 million passengers in 2011, hope to snag some of American's international flights that currently leave from New York.

"If the new airline would place some of those long-haul aircraft into Philadelphia, we might be able to gain access to those markets," airport CEO Mark Gale said.

US Airways used to have a hub at Pittsburgh International Airport but began winding down service in 2001. Since then, thousands of jobs have been lost and the airport — which once served more than 20 million passengers annually — saw only 8 million last year.

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