No more scaling back at BWI, USAir promises

May 20, 1993|By Suzanne Wooton | Suzanne Wooton,Staff Writer

Just a year after USAir scrapped dozens of flights a Baltimore-Washington International Airport, a top corporate officer said yesterday that USAir has no plans to further retrench here and will continue to operate a daily flight to London so long as it is profitable.

hTC "We are building, but we will not overreach nor do we intend to retrench," James T. Lloyd, USAir's executive vice president and general counsel, told more than 150 people at a breakfast sponsored by the BWI Business Partnership Inc.

His message echoed one delivered two weeks ago by the airline's president, Seth E. Schofield, before another business group in Baltimore.

As a condition of its alliance with British Airways, USAir must sell routes linking London with Baltimore, Philadelphia and Charlotte, But to maintain daily service from BWI, USAir has arranged to lease a plane to BA, beginning Sept. 1. The plane will use USAir crew but will carry the BA logo.

Since KLM recently shifted its Amsterdam flight from BWI to Washington's Dulles International Airport, USAir's London flight has become the only daily flight from BWI to Europe. Icelandic Airlines will soon begin daily service but only for the summer.

British Airways has no flights out of BWI, but it has two daily jumbo-jet flights from Dulles, 50 miles away, along with its Concorde service three times a week. Despite BA's presence at Dulles, USAir is committed to daily service at BWI "as long as we can make a profit," Mr. Lloyd said.

He said that BWI's market is different from Dulles' and that he expects USAir's alliance with the global carrier to generate business at BWI, which, unlike Dulles, is a USAir hub.

"The economic potential is strong, and we intend to work hard to make it a success," Mr. Lloyd said.

British Airways officials have also said they want to maintain the BWI flight to London.

The continuation of the London flight has been a primary concern for a number of people, including congressional representatives who urged federal regulators to make sure that the alliance with BA would not jeopardize BWI's only daily service to Europe.

The loss of the London flight could have a "serious psychological impact," said Neil M. Shpritz, executive director of the BWI Business Partnership group, which promotes development in the airport region.

"If something goes wrong on the North Atlantic route, then it's possible they could end that route," he said. "But I think that's fairly remote. I'm concerned, but I've been assured it won't happen."

USAir has operated the London flight for a year, since buying the route from Trans World Airways. In that time, the flight has done "reasonably well," Mr. Lloyd said.

USAir declined yesterday to release statistics about the loads the flights carry. Officials at BWI said the 220-seat jet typically carries 170 or 180 passengers, although the load occasionally dips below 100.

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