Whose hub? Skirmishes show defenses still strong

Airlines often look at their hub airports with considerable paternalism, if not outright possessiveness and can get defensive if not outright testy if another airline plans a foray into their home territory.crj_jet_225px.jpg So when American announced an early September start-up to new flights between its growing New York LaGuardia operation and the Minneapolis/St. Paul airport, the big player, at MSP, Northwest Airlines, got ready to respond. It announced that on the same day as American begin the LGA/MSP flights, it would begin nonstops between New York LaGuardia and (you guessed it) the American Airlines home base of Dallas/Fort Worth. The inaugural day rolled around and the American flights are operating but Northwest quietly cancelled its planned incursion into American’s home base. Take that, red-tailed barons of Northwest.
Northwest said that it had, on reflection, decided that it would devote the aircraft intended for LGA service to its ‘Heartland’ strategy, which stresses service to towns in the middle of the nation, and would instead link LGA with Des Moines, in the middle of Iowa, the corn-growing state in the middle of the nation; Flint, in Michigan, the Wolverine State, and Madison, in Wisconsin, the Badger State. American, interestingly enough, already serves Des Moines and Madison from LaGuardia with Eagle flights, and Eagle begins LGA/Flint flights in early November. A few days after it began the LGA service, American’s American Eagle poked its finger into the eye of another airline, announcing non-stops between JFK and Pittsburgh, the airport that US Airways long claimed as its fortress. No response yet from US Airways.

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