The managers of two of the state’s largest airports are taking a wait and see approach to the proposed Delta and Northwest Airlines’ merger. Both Delta and Northwest are serve the Cedar Rapids and Des Moines airports, and a merge would leave each with an empty counter. Des Moines Airport spokesman Roy Criss says they watch from the sidelines and don’t get involved in the airline plans.
Criss says their position has to be neutral as they are pretty much the landlord of the infrastructure through which the airlines sell their services, "The market is going to do what the market does, and the airlines are going to do what the airlines do," Criss explains. If the merger happens and there’s extra counter space, will Des Moines seek another carrier?
Criss says "absolutely" as any airport is always in a constant recruitment effort, but he says given the current industry situation, he’s not sure how successful they are going to be. Des Moines has eight Northwest and three Delta flights departing daily. In Cedar Rapids Northwest has nine flights out daily and Delta has four.
Eastern Iowa airport manager Dan Mann says they’re prepared for whatever happens. He says they’re used to the airlines being in turmoil over the last several years, so the contracts spell out what happens in a merger. Mann says the change could actually give them a change to do some of the renovations they’d like to do. Mann says the merger of two airlines is better than two struggling carriers.
Mann says it’s positive for the airports and everyone that travels. He says the airlines are not making money right now, but competition is good and in the long run he believes a stronger airline will benefit everyone. Northwest dominates Iowa’s smaller airports, with three daily flights from Mason City and Fort Dodge, four from Waterloo, and two flights starting from Dubuque in June.