Phooey to Nashville and Orlando

April 06, 1991

Nashville has the Grand Old Opry and Orlando has Disney World. Now those two cities have scripted a truly cornball idea: stealing Baltimore-Washington International Airport's passenger route to London. To which we say, phooey.

"The Washington region is well served with other Washington-to-London routes and Philadelphia-to-London service," Rep. Bob Clement, D-Tenn., maintains in urging the route to be transferred to Memphis. Next time the esteemed lawmaker takes a junket, let him fly out of Philadelphia and see how he likes that convenience.

Orlando, for its part, feels it needs additional service that British Airways and several charter airlines do not already provide.

We have nothing against either Nashville or Orlando. But those attempting to transfer an existing Trans World Airways route out of Baltimore are operating on a false premise. The route may be for sale, but the gateway cities are not. Therefore, if the route is sold, it should be sold to an airline that will continue service from BWI to London's Gatwick airport.

Things have been rough lately in the airlines industry, but BWI is doing quite nicely as a European gateway. KLM is doubling its Boeing 747 passenger service to Amsterdam to four weekly flights, offering the bonus of ample cargo capacity. Icelandair will increase its service to Europe to five flights a week in June. In contrast, TWA's once-a-week flight to London and Frankfurt -- the one that has triggered all this hullabaloo -- is an embarrassment. So is the aging aircraft used on the route, which soon will be expanded to three-a-week for the summer season.

We believe a different operator could tap that route's considerable market potential. A well-served London route is vital for the convenience of the Baltimore-Washington area's traveling public as well as the prosperity of the region's businesses.

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