NWA and Delta's Chapter 11 Filings Impacting Albany Int'l Airport

There are fewer seats these days on Northwest and Delta airlines flights out of Albany International Airport in Colonie.

Much of the impact of the Chapter 11 filings may occur behind the scenes. The Wall Street Journal reported that Northwest will try to outsource many of the ground support jobs now performed by Northwest employees at non-hub airports. US Airways outsourced its ground support jobs last spring at Albany International Airport during its own reorganization.

Northwest has shrunk its payroll at Albany to 20 people, from 23 when it filed for reorganization.

Delta's employees in Albany, meanwhile, already are outsourced, although to a wholly owned subsidiary, Delta Global Services, said Kelly. She said the arrangement saves the airline money on such expenses as health care costs.

Delta had 56 employees at Albany when it filed for reorganization Sept. 14.

The filings may also slow expansion at Albany International Airport, which is drawing up plans for a larger terminal and a fourth concourse.

"With three of the majors in bankruptcy, we have to proceed very cautiously with any of our expansion programs or major initiatives," said John O'Donnell, the airport's chief executive officer. "We'll continue with our smaller initiatives," which include an expanded security checkpoint and more parking. "But we'll have to take a conservative approach on airport growth."

The two airlines also owe a combined $300,000 in bills that date from before the Chapter 11 filing, Hadley said.

"It affects our cash flow a little bit," he said last week. US Airways had about $150,000 in payments due to the airport when it filed, a sum it will start to repay in November, Hadley said. United's debt to the airport is about $60,000.

What the long-term impact on service will be from the latest Chapter 11 filings isn't clear. After US Airways filed, it switched more of its flights to smaller, 50-seat regional jets. US Air also eliminated flights and lost its role as the airport's largest carrier to Southwest Airlines.

United kept approximately the same number of flights.

Through the first nine months, both saw their market share decline from year-earlier levels, US Air to 20.0 percent from 21.7 percent, and United to 12.3 percent from 12.4 percent.

Southwest, meanwhile, saw its share expand to 25.8 percent from 22.9 percent.

"Southwest is doing very well," O'Donnell said. "They've made a soft commitment to additional flights in 2006. We're optimistic."


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