American Airlines pulls 10 flights from Oklahoma to St. Louis

Tuesday, November 4th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Two airlines say they hope to fill the void left by American Airlines' cancelation of all 10 of its daily flights from Oklahoma to St. Louis.

But Southwest Airlines and Tulsa-based Great Plains have no immediate plans to add new flights.

Until Saturday, American had five daily flights to St. Louis from both Oklahoma City and Tulsa. The world's largest airline cut the flights because it has been losing money since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Oklahoma City and Tulsa are among 26 cities _ including London, Detroit and Portland, Ore. _ to lose all nonstop American flights to St. Louis.

Great Plains has two daily nonstop flights between Oklahoma City and St. Louis and three daily nonstop routes between Tulsa and St. Louis. Southwest has three direct flights from Oklahoma City and two from Tulsa.

American's decision may prove especially beneficial to Great Plains, which began service to St. Louis last month and previously said it would increase the frequency between cities later this month when more planes are added to the fleet.

``We were not aware of what American's planning might be, but we are pleased to be in a position to offer service from Oklahoma City and Tulsa to St. Louis,'' President and Chief Executive Officer David Johnson said. ``I think it's logical to expect that as people have need to go to St. Louis that we will become an airline of choice for flights out of Oklahoma.''

Great Plains has delayed the unrolling of its full flight schedule to St. Louis, Chicago and Washington for the third time in the past month.

The carrier began service to the three cities Oct. 6, but the full offerings have been postponed twice because of delays in the inspection process with the Federal Aviation Administration and other maintenance problems.

Southwest spokeswoman Linda Rutherford said the airline doesn't ``tend to make knee-jerk reactions based on other carriers moving in or out of a market.

``It may be that we are able to absorb that demand without any added services,'' she said.

Some travelers might end up flying to Dallas before they make it to St. Louis.

American spokesman Carlo Bertolini said the airline has increased its seat capacity on flights from Oklahoma City and Tulsa to its hub in Dallas.

In August, there were four mainline jet flights a day from Oklahoma City to Dallas-Fort Worth. That increased to five Nov. 1.

The number of regional jet flights dropped from five to four during that period but overall seat capacity increased.

Likewise, the airline expanded jet flights per day from Tulsa to Dallas from three to five on Nov. 1. The number of regional jet flights dropped from eight to six.

Daily flights from both cities to the airline's Chicago hub stayed the same.

Bertolini said the airline added flights from its hubs so that passengers from Tulsa and Oklahoma City will have more connection choices than they did before Nov. 1.