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USAir expected to take over Trump Shuttle soon


BOSTON -- USAir will take over the Trump Shuttle as soon as March 15, industry sources said yesterday.

The airline is expected to follow tradition by briefly offering reduced fares and frequent-flier incentives on the Boston-New York-Washington routes.

The nation's fifth-largest carrier would not comment on when it would assume the Trump Shuttle operation or on what promotions if would offer, saying its plans for fare promotion, advertising strategy and marketing plans were still under development.

It said a final agreement with Trump's creditors should be completed shortly.

"We're still finalizing our agreement with the banks," said David Shipley, a USAir spokesman.

USAir reached a preliminary agreement in December to operate the Trump Shuttle under the USAir name for 10 years.

The pact -- reached with Citibank and several other banks that lent $365 million to Donald Trump to acquire the former Eastern Airlines shuttle -- also gives USAir the option to acquire the shuttle in five years.

Already the biggest airline at Boston's Logan International Airport, USAir with the shuttle will have more than 20 percent of the flights leaving and arriving.

Its nearest rival, Delta Air Lines, which operates the former Pan Am Shuttle, is the second-biggest carrier at the Boston airport.

USAir, owned by USAir Group Inc. in Arlington, Va., is the main carrier at Baltimore-Washington International Airport with more than60 percent of the market.

Airline analysts say they do not expect major changes in fares or services after USAir takes over the Trump Shuttle.

"Maybe they'll lower fares a little to attract attention, but USAir won't do it for very long," said Daniel Kasper of Harbridge House, a Boston consulting firm.

"You are more likely to see them offer frequent-flier incentives to lure the business traveler," he said. "The air shuttle market is not one where marginal price differences stimulate the business traveler to switch."

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