American Eagle will end services and cut approximately 20 jobs at Albany International Airport by Nov. 2, airport spokesman Doug Myers said on Wednesday.
American Eagle, the regional affiliate of Fort Worth, Texas-based American Airlines, accounts for 3 percent of the passenger service at the airport.
It operates three daily flights to Chicago’s O’Hare International 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. He did not have figures available.
“In terms of passengers, we will not see a drop; the demand is still there,” Myers said.
Shelley Riley, a travel agent with Saratoga Traveler in Saratoga Springs, said Wednesday that American Airlines’ presence at Albany International Airport has been on the decline for some years.
“We put very few people on [American Eagle],” she said. She said the American flights only went to Chicago in recent years. Riley said a few years back American also had flights to JFK International. These were popular, but the airline discontinued them, she said.
Riley said American Airlines remains a “major presence” for people wanting to fly to the Caribbean out of New York City area airports. She said her customers often drive to New York or take a limo service to New York to pick up these flights.
Gov. David Paterson said in a prepared 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,” Paterson said.
Albany remains home to seven other airlines: Air Canada, Continental Express, Delta Airlines, Northwest Airlines, Southwest Airlines, United and US Airways. Southwest is Albany’s biggest carrier, accounting for 38 percent of its 1.5 million “enplanements” annually, 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 level of 70, Myers said.
The predecessor to American Airlines, Colonial Airlines, was the first carrier at Albany in 1929, Myers said.
American Airlines will be closing operations in Oakland, Calif., London, England, and Barranquilla, Columbia. It also will reduce departures from other cities, including Chicago and Dallas/Fort Worth.
In May, American Airlines announced it would reduce its fourth quarter domestic capacity by 11 to 12 percent, and that American Eagle would trim regional capacity by 10 to 11 percent. It said the changes were due to in high fuel-costs.