Tuesday, October 21, 2003

Airlines schedule terminal switch

By James Pilcher
The Cincinnati Enquirer

HEBRON - Starting next month, those flying either Northwest Airlines or Continental Airlines out of Cincinnati will need to go to a different part of the local airport.

Officials with both the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport and Delta Air Lines Monday confirmed that the two carriers would be moving to Delta's Terminal 3 in the next few months.

Northwest, which currently flies out of Terminal 1, is set to move on Nov. 1. Continental, which operates out of Terminal 2, will move in the first two months of next year to Delta's facility.

Each will operate two gates in Concourse A, and each will have their own ticket counter in the lobby.

The long-expected moves were outlined in the three airlines' partnership that was approved in March. The agreement allows the carriers to sell seats on each others' flights while keeping their own "code."

None of those flights are available for travelers originating from Cincinnati due to competitive reasons, but connecting flights will be open to the agreement.

The local airport is Delta's second-largest hub, and the new agreement could mean a lot of Continental and Northwest passengers connecting to Delta flights locally - hence the consolidation.

"This provides synergies and allows us to provide convenient and seamless travel for all our customers," Delta spokesman John Kennedy said.

The agreement also allows for collecting frequent flyer miles on any of the three airlines for each other's programs, and sharing elite frequent flier club lounges.

Northwest's move would leave Terminal 1, the original building of the airport, nearly half empty. Only US Airways and Midwest Express will operate out of the 58-year-old terminal.

The airport is in negotiations for some compensation for the loss of concessions and rent from the two other carriers, and preliminary figures are around an $800,000 payment to the airport, said airport finance director Sheila Hammons.

The move also raises the question as to what will happen to Terminal 1. The airport's long-range master plan eventually calls for the consolidation of all airlines into one big terminal, but that is 20-30 years down the road.

Airport aviation director Bob Holscher said no decisions had been made, but that one possibility could include using the space for excess traffic from Comair, the regional carrier that operates the most flights locally.

E-mail jpilcher@enquirer.com

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