Slay calls American Airlines' latest cuts at Lambert 'bad business decision'
This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Sept. 17, 2009 - St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay asserted on his blog today that American Airlines "is making a mistake" by cutting its flight schedule at Lambert Field to 36 flights a day, down from 83, by next summer.
"For example, American will eliminate a direct flight to San Diego that on average was 87 percent full. Why?" the mayor wrote.
He said that Airport Director Dick Hrabko had lobbied against the cuts in a meeting last month in Washington with airline executives. Despite showing them "hard numbers and hard facts," Slay said his airport chief "came home convinced they would cut here anyway."
American Airlines' announced cuts in St. Louis flights are part of "a drastic overhaul of its business model that will result in far fewer flights from more cities, including ours," Slay said.
Most of the remaining American Airlines flights will be to its hub cities, he said.
"I think this is a bad business decision for the airline. American is cutting service in a good market and walking away from loyal customers," Slay said. "Lambert has a service area of more than four million people. St. Louis passengers have been filling American’s planes; load factors, an important metric in their business, are very good. "
Despite his concern about the flight cuts, Slay said the changes at Lambert won't be drastic.
"The airport staff has already convinced other carriers to back-fill previous cutbacks made by American," he said. "Lambert’s four newest airlines, including Frontier and AirTran, now account for 26 flights a day. Southwest Airlines has shown continued confidence in the St. Louis market by maintaining or increasing its schedule. And, yesterday, Midwest Airlines announced it will launch nonstop service between Milwaukee and St. Louis, beginning March 1, 2010.
"Bottom line? People will keep flying to and from St. Louis. Fewer of them, though, will be flying American."