WASHINGTON ( TheStreet) -- A new study forecasts that Washington's Reagan National Airport will see a dramatic increase in passenger traffic, much of it at the expense of neighboring airports, due to divestitures accompanying the merger that created the new American Airlines (AAL - Get Report).
Passenger totals at National could rise by 2.5 million annually, said aviation consultant Sandy Rederer, a former TWA vice president for planning, who prepared the study for his clients.
The divestures will mean that bigger aircraft will serve National, Rederer said. The airlines that take over the slots will likely fly airplanes that are bigger than the regional aircraft now using them, and the new American will likely replace regional aircraft with bigger airplanes on some of the routes it keeps.
National "could easily get 2.5 million additional annual passengers and possibly more," Rederer said. "If the 44 divested slot pairs add 100 seats per operation (150 seats vs. 50), that would be 8,800 seats per peak day or around 3.2 million seats per year, (and) 3.2 million seats at 80% occupancy would mean 2.5 million annual passengers."
The airlines that acquire the slots would likely use Boeing 737s or Airbus A320s rather regional jets that now use the slots.