CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The director of Yeager Airport said the merger of American Airlines and U.S. Airways should lead to better pricing, increased options and improved customer service for West Virginia travelers.

Rick Atkinson said the combination of two powerful carriers will be a benefit to the state’s largest airport.

“U.S. Airways has a large and loyal customer base in West Virginia. You combine that with (American’s) networks and I think they’ll be a very strong and equal competitor with Delta and United,” said Atkinson. “It provides the best competition that’s possible under the present airline structure.”

With companies vying for limited flying dollars, Atkinson said ticket prices won’t vary so drastically from airline to airline. He predicted the merger also would lead to improved service at counters and in-flight as airlines compete to win over loyal fliers.

“They are investing in their product. That means a better customer experience.”

Currently Yeager offers flights on the major carriers to Dallas, Atlanta and Chicago. From those hubs Atkinson said travelers can connect to almost anywhere in the world. With the addition of smaller economy carriers handling flights to places like Charlotte and Washington, D.C., that opens up the rest of the country.

American and U.S. Airways are projected to offer a combined 6,700 daily flights to more than 330 destinations.

“I think we’ll see some stability in the airline industry for the next five or six years,” Atkinson said.

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