Airport may face turbulence |

Airport may face turbulence

Susan Wood

American Airlines’ bid for Trans World Airlines could have “a negative impact” on the Reno/Tahoe International Airport, but it’s unclear to what extent, the Washoe County Airport Authority reported Monday.

“We’re concerned about anything that limits competition,” spokesman Adam Mayberry said, adding it’s too soon to tell what the proposed merger entails.

A federal judge announced plans to accept the $742 million bid by American for the assets of bankrupt TWA, The Associated Press reported.

The purchase, which includes $3.5 billion in TWA debt, must be approved by the U.S. Justice Department. It’s expected to close next month.

American flies to and from Los Angeles, Dallas and Chicago from the northern Nevada airport. TWA has no flights out of Reno.

Adding to the fray of what may be a challenging spring for air travel, talks have broken down between Northwest Airlines and its mechanics union. The mechanics’ announcement of a possible strike Sunday caused President George W. Bush to sign an executive order Monday that creates a presidential emergency board.

Northwest flies two routes out of Reno.

The news hits on a day when the Federal Aviation Administration also announced a projected increased demand in air travel, topping an estimate of 1 billion passengers in the next decade.

The growth is expected to put new pressure on an already overburdened airline system, but smaller airports with ample capacity will probably fare better in terms of space.

Rather, there’s room to handle such growth in Reno, Mayberry said of the national debate. The airport operates at a quarter of its capacity.

“We want to see growth here. Our traffic is down, but at the same point, we’ll begin to flatten out soon,” he said. Mayberry expects a modest growth of 3 percent in passenger counts.

This is contingent on the number of flights, and it demands cooperation from the airlines and their unions.

Delta pilots could strike next month, while United Airlines is also engaged in a labor dispute with its mechanics. Both airlines fly in and out of Reno.

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