- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 25, 2001

US Airway's decision to suspend operations of MetroJet, its low-fare regional airline, removes some of the competition on air fares throughout the Washington region, airport and business groups said yesterday.
MetroJet is based at Baltimore-Washington International Airport and operates additional flights out of Washington Dulles International Airport. Losing MetroJet will make it easier for other airlines to raise fares without fear of competition.
"It wouldn't surprise me if air fares go up," said Tom Morr, managing partner of the Greater Washington Initiative, which markets the Washington area to industry.
"MetroJet was a competitive response to Southwest Airlines," Mr. Morr said. "That has helped keep our air fares across the region subject to competitive pressure."
US Airways, of Arlington, announced the MetroJet closing yesterday in a recorded telephone message to employees.
"As a result of the government's and public's reaction to last week's terrorist attacks, and the closing of Washington's Reagan National Airport, a new security system and a dramatic decrease of airline traffic, we have to reduce our costs dramatically," the message said.
The cost reductions include the elimination of 737-200 jets, an older model of aircraft used by MetroJet.
The MetroJet shutdown comes in the wake of 11,000 layoffs announced last week and a 23 percent reduction in US Airways' operations. US Airways, along with MetroJet, is BWI's second-largest airline, after Southwest Airlines.
MetroJet operates 182 daily flights to cities in the East and Midwest. Forty-nine of them fly out of BWI and a few out of Dulles.
"Having a low-fare carrier in your market is always helpful in providing a full range of travel options and a little more competition for air fares," said Jonathan Gaffney, spokesman for the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority.
MetroJet is the second airline in less than a week to announce it will abandon BWI. Last week, Irish air carrier Aer Lingus said it would discontinue flights from Baltimore.
"When things settle down for international travel, I hope they will consider BWI as an option again," said Melanie Miller, Maryland Aviation Administration spokeswoman.
She attributed the loss of Aer Lingus to the Sept. 11 terrorist hijackings that destroyed New York's World Trade Center and damaged the Pentagon, resulting in a loss of business for airlines nationwide.
"It's all for cost-cutting measures, not because of any kind of lack of service," Miss Miller said. "The loads on Aer Lingus were full."
Aer Lingus operates one flight daily out of BWI to Ireland. It will continue to operate flights out of New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport.

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