|South Metro Airport Action Council
** S M A A C **
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE November 26, 2008
CONTACT: Jim Spensley, President
SMAAC Forum to Hear Public Concerns about MSP.
State legislators will hear public concerns about future airline service, operational safety, jobs and economic development at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP) after the Delta/Northwest Airlines merger. The occasion is the annual Fall Forum sponsored by the South Metro Airport Action Council (SMAAC), set for 7 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 2.
A round table discussion will be held at Windom Community Center, 5833 Wentworth Ave. S., Minneapolis with legislators representing districts adjacent to MSP or serving on labor, economic development and transportation committees. The Forum will continue and extend matters raised in legislative hearings about Delta‚s assumption of Northwest Airlines covenants regarding business activities in Minnesota, Northwest agreed to keep certain flight operations, businesses and jobs in Minnesota in return for State financing and contract concessions by the Metropolitan Airports Commission.
SMAAC has questioned if MSP expansion matched expectations for competitive air service, economic growth, safety, and environmental management. Airport expansion has morphed into expansion of Northwest‚s Œfortress hub‚ with fewer competing airlines, much high fares compared to non-hub cities, more noise and pollution, and peak-hour congestion at a small airfield. SMAAC testified at the November 13 legislative hearing.
Delta Airlines recently announced it would locate the Corporate Headquarters of the combined airlines in Atlanta, but wanted to re-negotiate terms and conditions of loan, lease, and airport revenue-sharing agreements at MSP. Public questions involve continued high fares or even increases, service reductions, job cuts, ground and air traffic safety reductions. Northwest unions are concerned because MSP operations might be severely cut back or wage, benefits, and work rule concessions imposed.
"The aftermath of the merger will likely limit State economic development, considering the limited options," according to SMAAC President Jim Spensley. "Delta is either going to move business activities and reduce local flight service or they are going to outsource high tech maintenance jobs, coerce union wage and benefit reductions, raise fares, and seek more government support with less regulation. Neither alternative is attractive, but MAC and the Legislature need to tread carefully."