Monday, February 03, 2014

Dehubbing there, dehubbing here

Just more on the "dehubbing" of Cleveland announced by United Airlines.  You can read all about it in the ongoing and literally omnibus coverage from the Cleveland Plain Dealer. You really have to check out all the different angles they are covering, everything from the impact to vacation travelers, to the impact on the 'live concert' business. Of course the obligatory response from government to do all they can to alleviate the impact.

The thing that strikes me is the difference in what the United hub meant for Cleveland compared to what the USAirways hub once meant for Pittsburgh.  From an employment perspective, all the changes being talked about in Cleveland center around the loss of 470 jobs. We are talking a very different event than what happened here. USAirways alone likely peaked at over 12,000 jobs in Pittsburgh. I have to believe they are well under 2K local jobs today. Thus I'd bracket the job loss in Pittsburgh at 20 times the announced job loss in Cleveland. Consider that the recent news that the USAirways operations center is closing is, in itself, a bigger job loss event than all that is going on in Cleveland of late. The ~10K jobs lost here would not  not include a lot of non-USAirways jobs at the airport that went away as the flight count here dropped. 

470 jobs, for some perspective, is about the number of zinc workers who are losing their jobs in Beaver county as the Horseheads Corporation relocates its operation out of the region. 

Of course, there is the impact of the loss of flights beyond the direct employment being lost, but as a job loss event we are just not talking the same deal at all. Also, remember when USAirways wanted to merge with United back in 2000?  What would that have meant to Pittsburgh as a hub operation for the combined airline? Some say the events of 9/11 did USAirways in, but such was the sorry state of the company when the United merger failed that the news had to report on the offer by one Emil Bernard to 'buy' USAirways in August of 2001.  Like the dude was about to write an $1.8 billion personal check.


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