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Small cities losing airline service

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saxman

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American just announced cuts to 15 cities beginning in October. Until 2019 it looked like small airports would stick around as record people were flying. Longer and longer "skinny" flights were appearing now that larger and more comfortable regional jets are the norm. Airports like Worchester, MA had just opened up to new service as well as flights like DFW to Portland, Maine were set to start. This would be a good opportunity for Amtrak to pounce on some add campaigns. They won't though.

We should also note that none of these are EAS cities. So while much smaller cities will still get government assistance to have airline service, many of these are totally without service anymore. Perhaps the EAS program should be looked at again? I know that's always a contentious debate on here.

American is leaving the following: (*denotes Amtrak city) (+denotes cities losing all airline service)
Aspen, CO (ASE)
*Del Rio, TX (DRT)+
Dubuque, IA (DBQ)+
*Florence, SC (FLO)+
Greenville, NC (PGV)+
Huntington, WV (HTS)
Joplin, MO (JLN)+
*Kalamazoo, MI (AZO)
*Lake Charles, LA (LCH)
*New Haven, CT (HVN)+
Newburgh, NY (SWF)
Roswell, NM (ROW)+
Sioux City, IA (SUX)+
*Springfield, IL (SPI)
Sillwater, OK (SWO)+
Williamsport, PA (IPT)+
*Worcester, MA (ORH)

Some of these cities are still served by other airlines, while other won't be. Del Rio seems to gain and lose service all the time, and is very far away from its closest airport.

Back in July Delta pulled out of 11 cities, however they are all served by other airlines:
Aspen, CO (ASE)
Bangor, ME (BGR)
*Erie, PA (ERI)
*Flint, MI (FNT)
Fort Smith, AR (FSM)
*Lincoln, NE (LNK)
New Bern/Morehead/Beaufort, NC (EWN)
Peoria, IL (PIA)
*Santa Barbara, CA (SBA)
Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, PA (AVP)
*Williston, ND (XWA)

I couldn't find much on United, but they have already left *Kalamazoo and Myrtle Beach, among a few others.
 
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SarahZ

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This leaves Kalamazoo with just Delta.

AZO is primarily used by business travelers. The rest of us almost always drive to Grand Rapids, Detroit, or Chicago.
 

jebr

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A small correction to the list: while SUX is losing AA service, they're (at least last I checked) gaining United service to DEN on Oct. 14. There'll be about a week between the end of AA service and the start of UA service. (The transition wasn't expected; when the UA flight was announced AA was still planning on having their ORD and DFW flights as well.)
 

Exvalley

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I've never understood why New Haven was not more popular. It sure beats the drive into New York City. I guess one problem is that Bradley in Windsor Locks is not too far away.
 

Devil's Advocate

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AA previously stated this was a temporary withdrawal whereas it sounds like you're saying these are permanent reductions. It looks like they were only keeping them until the bailout restrictions expired. Then again I wonder how many people who have visited places like Del Rio, TX and Roswell, NM felt that their economic situation warranted routine commercial airline service.
 
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sttom

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Sadly airlines have been cutting service to isolated towns and secondary cities for a long time. I know Jet Blue announced late in 2019 that they were going to cease all service to Oakland, CA sometime this year, which probably got stepped up due to the pandemic. Providing life line service is expensive and is something the market just does not want to provide. And the only profitable parts are flying from hub to hub with a few supplemental flights between secondary airports and other hubs. I just wonder what is going to replace the airline connections in these rural areas, its not going to be buses. They've been cutting service to rural areas for years now and Amtrak frankly doesn't have the money and Congress has been trying to cut the Essential Air Service for years now.
 

Michigan Mom

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Some of these smaller airports had another function, provided they have a long enough runway and other infrastructure; serving as a weather alternate. If weather is advancing on Chicago from the West, the carriers can divert flights into GRR, AZO and provide ground transport to ORD if the flight ends up terminating. AZO is close to GRR and smaller volume so if a choice had to be made, I can see why.
 

Dakota 400

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Some of these smaller airports had another function, provided they have a long enough runway and other infrastructure; serving as a weather alternate. If weather is advancing on Chicago from the West, the carriers can divert flights into GRR, AZO and provide ground transport to ORD if the flight ends up terminating. AZO is close to GRR and smaller volume so if a choice had to be made, I can see why.
You are correct. Over the years, DAY has had some "unexpected" arrivals by large aircraft due to its being an alternate airport when the primary one was not available.

It was a Charter flight that was planned to depart from DAY, but our airport even hosted a Concorde once.
 

TWA904

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Does AA plan to return to any of these cities when this virus is over? I used to work at CCAIR which provided USAirways Express service between Charlotte and Greenville, NC. Greenville was one of our best routes. Routinely we carried over 4,000 passengers a month.
 

Devil's Advocate

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The post-pandemic airline market is likely to be a tiny shell of its former self. Routine business and thin rural traffic may never recover to pre-pandemic levels. Tourism travel will eventually return but that traffic heavily favors large cities and resort areas over rural towns. People in places like Roswell or Del Rio do not choose these locations for easy access. The smallest town I visit regularly is still served by AA but 60% of flights are gone and may never return.
 
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Barb Stout

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The post-pandemic airline market is likely to be a tiny shell of its former self. Routine business and thin rural traffic may never recover to pre-pandemic levels. Tourism travel will eventually return but that traffic heavily favors large cities and resort areas over rural towns. People in places like Roswell or Del Rio do not choose these locations for easy access. The smallest town I visit regularly is still served by AA but 60% of flights are gone and may never return.
Speaking of Roswell, a few months back when the airlines indicated that they weren't going to fly into Roswell anymore, some city officials indicated that they were trying to cut some kind of deal so the airport can still get some service. Then last week I heard on the news that some company that deals with dead or unused aircraft opened or expanded a place in Roswell where they will store aircraft that are no longer in service, lots and lots of them. I wonder if somehow that's part of the deal because they have to get to Roswell somehow. New Mexico has plenty of space for such things, that's for sure.
 

Willbridge

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Sadly airlines have been cutting service to isolated towns and secondary cities for a long time. I know Jet Blue announced late in 2019 that they were going to cease all service to Oakland, CA sometime this year, which probably got stepped up due to the pandemic. Providing life line service is expensive and is something the market just does not want to provide. And the only profitable parts are flying from hub to hub with a few supplemental flights between secondary airports and other hubs. I just wonder what is going to replace the airline connections in these rural areas, its not going to be buses. They've been cutting service to rural areas for years now and Amtrak frankly doesn't have the money and Congress has been trying to cut the Essential Air Service for years now.
X-reference the thread regarding Greyhound Lines moving into Denver Union Station. One of their motives was to improve the link between their routes and Denver International Airport. However, they also have been progressively removing intermediate stops in order to brace themselves for competition with the curbside operators like Flix and MegaBus. Those companies in turn compete with discount air travel. The first stop now on GL east of Denver is Colby, Kansas.

The transition to government-run regional bus services has included schedules or route deviations for airport connections but that's strictly a matter of local initiative. The bus counterpart to the EAS program doesn't consider intermodal conections important. It makes intercity bus connections critical on the other hand.
 

Palmland

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I’m still Think there is an opportunity for Amtrak and GL to leverage each other’s strengths: Amtrak more efficiently carries a large number of passengers over a long distance while Greyhound can better serve smaller number of passengers in less populated areas. The CEO’s of both companies need to develop a partnership that would benefit both.
 

railiner

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I’m still Think there is an opportunity for Amtrak and GL to leverage each other’s strengths: Amtrak more efficiently carries a large number of passengers over a long distance while Greyhound can better serve smaller number of passengers in less populated areas. The CEO’s of both companies need to develop a partnership that would benefit both.
That sounds good in theory, but the bus can go almost everywhere the train can go, so the bus carrier doesn't want to yield their long distance passengers. The trains cant go everywhere the buses go, so the interchange of passengers mostly benefits them, to extend their reach. Of course, the buses will welcome any additional business thrown their way.
Amtrak can sell Greyhound tickets to several places, but I don't know anywhere that Greyhound can sell an Amtrak ticket...
 

Devil's Advocate

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Speaking of Roswell, a few months back when the airlines indicated that they weren't going to fly into Roswell anymore, some city officials indicated that they were trying to cut some kind of deal so the airport can still get some service. Then last week I heard on the news that some company that deals with dead or unused aircraft opened or expanded a place in Roswell where they will store aircraft that are no longer in service, lots and lots of them. I wonder if somehow that's part of the deal because they have to get to Roswell somehow. New Mexico has plenty of space for such things, that's for sure.
With enough subsidies you can bring scheduled air service almost anywhere, but the profit motive business case faces some difficult realities. Tying scheduled service to aircraft parking sounds innovative but we've already passed the maximum leverage phase. In the future airlines will need fewer parking spaces as they bring newer aircraft back into service and older aircraft are ferried to established graveyards where they can be dismantled. AA is not the sort of carrier that gives new routes a long time to reach profitability and the primary factor against making a profit in Roswell is the existence of two full service airports within day trip range. There may be some sort of surgical break-even point to be found but this would be a difficult time to start such a route and my guess is that any interest AA continues to show for serving ROW is focused on helping to retain support for another round of bailout money.


Eight of about a dozen grounded American Airlines Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft are parked on a remote taxiway at Roswell International Air Center in Roswell, New Mexico. (Tom Fox / Staff Photographer)
 
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Palmland

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That sounds good in theory, but the bus can go almost everywhere the train can go, so the bus carrier doesn't want to yield their long distance passengers. The trains can’t go everywhere the buses go, so the interchange of passengers mostly benefits them, to extend their reach. Of course, the buses will welcome any additional business thrown their way.
Amtrak can sell Greyhound tickets to several places, but I don't know anywhere that Greyhound can sell an Amtrak ticket...
Greyhound’s website seems to support what you’re saying. But, according to their Route map there are gaps in their system as well as routes only served by ‘partner bus line’. A selective alliance with Amtrak might benefit both and certainly the passenger on a multi day bus trip. Now it really is one sided with Amtrak’s thruway routes.

Of course if a bus passenger got a ticket that included a transfer to a train they might never take the bus again!
 

Michigan Mom

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Wow, the pictures of AA's grounded 73s just really got to me. Air travel used to have such a sense of promise and progress.
The AA and UA liveries pre-rebranding were the epitome of this sense of possibility.
 

bms

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Greyhound’s website seems to support what you’re saying. But, according to their Route map there are gaps in their system as well as routes only served by ‘partner bus line’. A selective alliance with Amtrak might benefit both and certainly the passenger on a multi day bus trip. Now it really is one sided with Amtrak’s thruway routes.

Of course if a bus passenger got a ticket that included a transfer to a train they might never take the bus again!
A lot of the small intercity bus operators quietly get state subsidies as well - not just road maintenance but direct payments to the carriers. There's no way it would be profitable to provide service to a remote village such as Trout Run, Pa, otherwise. If Amtrak went away, in a lot of cases the states would end up paying to subsidize buses to the same locations.
 

anumberone

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Wow, the pictures of AA's grounded 73s just really got to me. Air travel used to have such a sense of promise and progress.
The AA and UA liveries pre-rebranding were the epitome of this sense of possibility.
Yeah, in the So. California desert, Victorville and I suppose Mohave airports are plugged with stored Airliners. Something that had always amazed me, is seeing Airliners parked next to each other is the the difference in size.
 

railiner

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A lot of the small intercity bus operators quietly get state subsidies as well - not just road maintenance but direct payments to the carriers. There's no way it would be profitable to provide service to a remote village such as Trout Run, Pa, otherwise. If Amtrak went away, in a lot of cases the states would end up paying to subsidize buses to the same locations.
Providing a small subsidy to a private carrier works out a lot cheaper than for the county to operate the service themselves, when it is deemed socially necessary. The private carrier is bringing 'outsider's' that help pay the way, rather than just county residents...
 

bms

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Yes, although it is even done on busy routes like Allentown-NYC. One operator, Bieber, recently shut down because they got state subsidies every year, pocketed the money, and didn't pay their bills. Eventually the NY Port Authority stopped letting them drop off at their station.
 

Willbridge

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That sounds good in theory, but the bus can go almost everywhere the train can go, so the bus carrier doesn't want to yield their long distance passengers. The trains cant go everywhere the buses go, so the interchange of passengers mostly benefits them, to extend their reach. Of course, the buses will welcome any additional business thrown their way.
Amtrak can sell Greyhound tickets to several places, but I don't know anywhere that Greyhound can sell an Amtrak ticket...
Reno to Salt Lake City was sold as a Greyhound ticket on Amtrak. Greyhound was down to one bus a day of that segment of the Overland Route and it is usually the lowest segment of rail coach occupancy, so Greyhound discontinued their service and put their small number of riders on Trains 5/6. Greyhound's computer routed much of the traffic via Los Angeles via I-5 (example: SF to Denver). With the advent of 3x weekly service this was blanked out. I checked on October 5th and that was still the case.

Years ago some Western Airlines and Amtrak West officials kicked around the idea of Western selling space on that same segment (SLC<>RNO) but they were interrupted by the sale to Delta.
 

railiner

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Reno to Salt Lake City was sold as a Greyhound ticket on Amtrak. Greyhound was down to one bus a day of that segment of the Overland Route and it is usually the lowest segment of rail coach occupancy, so Greyhound discontinued their service and put their small number of riders on Trains 5/6. Greyhound's computer routed much of the traffic via Los Angeles via I-5 (example: SF to Denver). With the advent of 3x weekly service this was blanked out. I checked on October 5th and that was still the case.

Years ago some Western Airlines and Amtrak West officials kicked around the idea of Western selling space on that same segment (SLC<>RNO) but they were interrupted by the sale to Delta.
I never knew that...I wonder how they explained to their passenger's about them riding a train over that segment? I would be very curious over their reaction to the experience, especially if they hadn't ridden a train before...
 

west point

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Does Greyhound have any routes that a person can flag dow or onboard passnegers say I want to stop at =======. Many years ago I did that on Trailways. Now you cannot even get GL to do a ramp up and down to get off.
 
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