Reporter’s notebook from San Diego: the fog lifted from this port city just in time for Airline Business’s NetworkUSA 2008 to bring together about 250 airport and airline people in our eighth annual conference. But still hanging over the folks here was the air of uncertainty that’s enveloped the US airline world since it emerged that Delta and Northwest were in serious combination talks. Will there be a merger and what will happen to my airport if there is?
Well, Left Field spent a day last week with two of the top executives of Delta, and came away with the pretty clear belief that not only is there not about to be a merger but that the guys from Atlanta really deep down in their Delta hearts don’t really want one. Ed Bastian, Delta’s president and chief financial officer, told us, “we don’t feel a compelling need to urge” and in any case his focus was on Delta’s stand-alone plan.
We told this to folks here at NetworkUSA, and we were joined by a long-time friend, Holly Hegeman of planebusiness.com. Holly’s been online for more than a decade with her insight, including the gold that she gathers from airline securities analysts and the Wall Street community.
Also present: a smaller airport, Dayton, Ohio, where the aviation director, Iftikhar Ahmad, said he was pretty upbeat no matter who does what with whom. Fortunately our friend Addison Schonland of IAG was there, too, and has podcasts up and ready with a little network recap from Left Field and from our pilot in chief, Mark Pilling. Addison has also put up podcast from Dayton.
We also heard some upbeat remarks from the Hartford airport in Western Connecticut, where the airport and its consultants, TranSystems/Campbell-Hill, have done some interesting things getting service to Europe to help stem the flow of local travellers to the twin 800-pound gorillas, New York's JFK, and Boston's Logan. Here's the IAG podcast of Hartford.