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USAir to drop Dayton hub, reduce flights

DAYTON, Ohio -- USAir, saying it lost $45 million on its Dayton operations during the past 18 months, announced Monday it will drop the hub and reduce daily departures from 73 to 20 beginning in January.

USAir said most of its jet flights into Dayton from smaller and medium size 'spoke' cities will be shifted to its hub at Pittsburgh, which has 303 daily jet departures.

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USAir said approximately 300 customer service and 59 maintenance employees face either relocation or layoffs.

'The decision to discontinue Dayton's status as a hub was extremely difficult for USAir,' said Randall Malin, executive vice president for marketing, USAir.

'Despite positive support from the Dayton community, we simply could not continue to accept negative financial results from the Dayton hub operation,' he said.

USAir, which operates 14 gates at Dayton International Airport, said it will need only six gates after Jan. 7 and will consider subleasing the others. USAir said it will honor its lease commitments for all 14 gates until they expire in 1996.

Dayton passengers will continue to have nonstop service to New York LaGuardia Airport, Washington National Airport, Newark International Airport, Los Angeles and Orlando, Fla., as well as the hubs in Charlotte, N.C., Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Indianapolis.

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Malin said one problem was the low level of originating traffic at Dayton, which he said was a crucial factor in hub performance. Of all U. S. domestic airline hubs, Dayton produces the least amount of locally originating traffic, he said.

Weak domestic airline industry traffic over the past few years and the current recession also affected hub operations, Malin said.

Malin said USAir was unwilling to continue to subsidize loss operations at Dayton 'in an era of economic difficulty.'

'We have made every effort to make the Dayton hub operation profitable,' said Malin. 'We have given this situation two years to work and we simply can no longer accept substantial losses from this operation.'

USAir employs 424 customer service and 91 maintenance employees at the airport. Some employees will remain at Dayton while others will be relocated and some be laid off.

Malin said USAir Express flights, which is provided by Jetstream International, a subsidiary of USAir Group, will be reduced.

Dayton's load factor was 54 percent, compared with USAir's 60 percent break-even requirement.

Between 1986 and 1990, Dayton 'originating' traffic has remained relatively flat at about 1.9 million passengers, Malin said.

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Malin said originating traffic at Dayton is the lowest of any U.S. airline hub in the nation. In 1990 Dayton generated an average of 2,625 arriving and departing passengers daily. This compares with 4,931 for Cincinnati, 6,207 for Indianapolis, 7,929 for Cleveland, 8,499 for Pittsburgh, 17,119 for Detroit, and 39,719 for Chicago.

Piedmont Airlines began its Dayton hub July 2, 1982. USAir merged with Piedmont Aug. 5, 1989, and Dayton became a hub on the USAir System.

USAir said service was reduced in 1990 because USAir canceled long- haul nonstop routes from Dayton, which did not generate sufficient traffic to be profitable.

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