American and US Airways' merger is the best option for the two airlines because the company is now about the same size as competitors United and Delta, Atkinson said.
Almost 57,000 passengers flew on both United and Continental airlines out of Yeager Airport in 2011, he said. That same year, nearly 93,000 people flew on Delta. US Airways had about 78,000 passengers and American Airlines had almost 23,000 passengers.
Yeager is the only airport in West Virginia that has offered American Airlines flights. Huntington's Tri-State Airport is the only airport that has US Airways. Atkinson said he expects that Tri-State will end up with the new American flights "after it's all said and done."
All three carriers will have about equal share at Yeager, he said.
While ticket prices have increased in recent years -- because of high fuel prices and the economy -- they won't rise at Yeager because of the merger, Atkinson said.
Competition among airlines helps the consumer, Belcher said.
"Here at this airport there is really good competition. If we were dominated by one carrier, that carrier would probably price higher because they dominate the market, but they will be about even here," he said.
Atkinson said the physical appearance of Yeager Airport would not have to go through much change. American and US Airways are located next to each other and operate out of the same gates.
"Nothing much will change here. We don't think we're going to lose anything," Atkinson said.
The merger will not cause Yeager to trim flights and the two airlines do not overlap flights here, he said.
Reach Megan Workman at megan.work...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5113.