US Airways Adds Europe Flights at Charlotte, World's Fourth-Biggest Hub

CHARLOTTE, N.C. ( TheStreet) -- US Airways ( LCC) will move this summer to buttress its Charlotte hub, which in terms of peak summer departures is already the fourth-largest single airline hub in the world.

Even though the City of Charlotte's questionable management of the airport could provoke questions going forward, for now US Airways' Charlotte hub continues to grow. The carrier said Monday it will add four new non-stop European seasonal destinations this summer.

The addition of Barcelona, Brussels, Lisbon and Manchester will bring the total of Charlotte's European destinations to 10, also including year-round service to Frankfurt and London Heathrow, and seasonal service to Paris, Rome, Madrid and Dublin. The increase has been dramatic since April 2009, when Frankfurt and London were the only European destinations.

Delta's ( DAL) Atlanta hub, with approximately 1,000 daily departures, is the world's-largest single carrier hub, in terms of peak daily departures during summer 2013. (Summer is the peak travel season). American ( AAMRQ) in Dallas ranked second, United ( UAL) in Chicago was third and Charlotte, with 655 daily departures, was fourth. In terms of capacity, measured by number of available seats, Charlotte was fifth, behind United's Houston hub.

"Charlotte is a very good situation geographically, very similar to Atlanta," said Jason Reisinger, US Airways director of route planning, in an interview. "It has a lot of connectivity to the east, to the west and to Florida." Under the winter schedule now in effect, Charlotte has 613 daily departures to 128 destinations, including 108 domestic destinations. Most major airline schedules typically diminish in the winter.

Only about 25% of US Airways Charlotte traffic originates in Charlotte, a relatively low number, but the connections are strong and airport costs, under former longtime airport director Jerry Orr, have been kept at the lowest level of any major U.S. airport.

Barcelona will be served with an Airbus A330-200 jet seating 258 passengers including 20 in suites. US Airways is taking delivery of five A330s this year, with two already delivered and one on the way. US Airways currently serves Barcelona from Philadelphia. "We've been doing well in Barcelona for a while," Reisinger said. "A lot of tourists go there, we haven't seen any falloff in traffic due to the Spanish economy, and we wanted to add Charlotte."

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