Airport officials say airliner merger will help SRQ

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SARASOTA - The Justice Department agreed Tuesday to allow the merger of U.S. Airways and American Airlines. U.S. Airways already flies out of Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport, so how will the merger affect future flights?

“The airport's very excited about the merger. We were very supportive of it. We sent a letter to Pam Bondi, attorney general, in support, and we're hopeful that the merger will provide additional flights out of SRQ,” says Mark Stuckey, VP of special projects for SRQ.

The airport currently has U.A. Airways, however Mark Stuckey is hopeful that the merger and the combination of the One World Alliance Loyalty Program with American Airlines, will benefit the Suncoast community. “For a small airport like ours, when you double the route network for adding to airlines, one that doesn't exist to one that exists at your airport, it definitely opens up a lot more cities and more possibilities of connections out of Sarasota. Hopefully, we'll bring the prices down.”

SRQ hopes they will get the major hubs that American currently flies, like Miami and Dallas.

And frequent fliers of the Suncoast agree. “My hopes are that…they get more flights in and out of here. More direct flights,” says Sarasota resident Stephen Salemi.

On the other end, others do not see how this could be a good thing on a larger level. “I don't really know how it's going to affect this airport, but I think nationally it's going to be a negative because I think it's just going to be another way for the airlines to charge more money,” says Sarasota resident Marshal Nocker.

He has a point. One of the original arguments was it could reduce competition and increase prices. But it may be months, even years before passengers see the impact of the merger. The official deal is not expected to close until December.

“There's always a possibility that there will be less competition. But for our airport we're actually gaining an airline,” says Stuckey.