American Eagle will end service and cut approximately 20 jobs at Albany International Airport by the end of the year, airport spokesman Doug Myers said this afternoon.
American Eagle, the regional affiliate of Fort Worth, Texas-based American Airlines, accounts for 3 percent of passenger service at the airport. It operates three daily flights to O’Hare Airport in Chicago, Myers said.
“We are fortunate we have two other airlines that fly to Chicago: United Airlines and Southwest. While the service itself will be impacted, we will have sufficient capacity to move passengers who want to get to Chicago,” Myers said.
American Eagle said it also is closing operations at four other airports as part of a plan to reduce capacity. The other sites are in Providence, R.I.; Harrisburg, Pa.; San Luis Obispo, Calif., and Samana in the Dominican Republic.
Myers said American Eagle’s closures are tied to the dramatic increase in fuel prices.
“It all goes back to the cost of doing business. The airline, automotive and trucking industries are in a state of unrest due to fuel prices,” he said. “The real unfortunate part is that this fuel crisis has led to loss of jobs here at Albany.”
He said office workers, counter staff and people who work on the tarmac for American Eagle will lose their jobs. The airport itself will see a loss of revenues from landing fees, rent and fuel charges, Myers said, although he did not have figures available.
“In terms of passengers, we will not see a drop. The demand is still there,” Myers said.
Gov. David Paterson said in a statement he is disappointed for travelers relying on New York’s airports.
“At a time when we are working to make air transportation more reliable and comfortable for passengers, these reductions will eliminate travel options and competition, two key elements of affordable travel,” he said. “Especially troubling is the effect this will have on upstate airports, which were traditionally underserved and only in the last few years began to see more routes and better service.”
Albany remains home to seven other airlines: Air Canada, Continental Express, Delta Airlines, Northwest Airlines, Southwest Airlines, United and U.S. Airways. Southwest is Albany’s biggest carrier, accounting for 38 percent of its 1.5 million annual “enplanements”, Myers said.
In the fall, Albany will get an eighth carrier, Cape Air, and will see the number of flights per day out of the airport increase to 80 from the current 70, Myers said.
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