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Merger results in new low cost carrier flights from D.C.

One of the criticisms of mergers of large airlines is that the result is less competition and therefore higher airfare costs to consumers. For travelers in and out of DC’s Reagan National Airport, however, the high profile merger of US Air and American Airlines will likely result in lower fares.

As a result of the merger, American Airlines was forced to give up 52 slot pairs at Reagan National Airport. The lion’s share of those slots were awarded to low-cost carrier Southwest Airlines. This week, Southwest announced it was using those slots to add new round-trip flights daily to Chicago, Nashville, New Orleans, Tampa, Akron-Canton, Dallas, and Indianapolis. The carrier also announced plans to add flights on existing routes to Houston and St. Louis.

Business travel is big business

This week, the Global Business Travel Association released a study on the economic impacts of business travel. According to the study, business travel in the U.S. was responsible for roughly 3 percent of the nation’s GDP – with business travelers accounting for $491 billion. Additionally, the study shows that for every 1 percent increase in travel spending, the U.S. economy adds an additional 71,000 jobs, nearly $5 billion in GDP, $3 billion in wages and $1.2 billion in tax collections.

 The study also broke down the average business travel trip. In 2012, the average business traveler spent $540 per trip: $147 on lodging, $230 on transportation, $100 on food and beverage, $28 on shopping, and $22 on entertainment. The average for those business trips that utilized air travel was much higher - $1100 in total per trip.

TSA rejects calls to arm security screeners

In the wake of the shootings at LAX, there have been calls to arm TSA security screening agents. This week, the TSA released a 26-page report that recommends local and airport police place armed personnel at security checkpoints during peak times but rejected calls to actually arm TSA agents.

According to the report by TSA, only 51 of the 447 airports have law enforcement present at security checkpoints and about a quarter of them have no police officers directly assigned to the airport.

The union that represents TSA agents, the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), has urged that armed law enforcement be present at security checkpoints and other key locations in every airport.