Charlotte's airport will remain a major hub for U.S. Airways for at least three years after the company merges with American Airlines. That's part of a settlement the airlines reached with the Justice Department and state attorneys general today, which had sued to block the merger.
In the settlement, the airlines agreed to maintain their current hubs in a way that's consistent with historical operations for a period of three years.
That's all the detail the settlement gives – it doesn't lay out what "consistent with historical operations" means.
But U.S. Airways CEO Doug Parker made it clear on a conference call that the major hubs won't change.
"No one should read into the fact that we've agreed to three years - quite to the contrary," Parker said. "We were willing to agree to three years because we fully intend to keep the hub structure in place forever."
U.S. Airways currently has its largest hub in Charlotte, and American Airlines has an even bigger one in Dallas. If the merger goes through, Dallas would become the new company's largest hub, and Charlotte would remain the biggest one on the East Coast.
Also, the airlines agreed to operate fewer daily flights out of Washington Reagan National Airport and New York LaGuardia Airport. A U.S. Airways spokesman says the Reagan cuts won't impact Charlotte but the LaGuardia ones could. (The details still need to be worked out.)
The airlines now expect to complete the merger next month. And if you're wondering what all this means for your ticket prices? A government analysis hinted they could go up.