Cape airport rallies in face of AA cuts

Wednesday, July 30, 2003

The news from American Airlines earlier this month was a blow to the economic interests of St. Louis and to the thousands of travelers from the Midwest, including Southeast Missouri, who routinely took advantage of the airline's hub operation at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport.

The announced AA cuts were of immediate concern to travelers who use American Connections service from the Cape Girardeau Regional Airport to connecting flights in St. Louis. Would the three round trips a day continue? The answer, thankfully, was yes.

Indeed, there has been an effort recently to add a fourth daily round trip for American Connections, and airport officials say that will continue. The airport is seeking business support for a $100,000 travel trust fund which, along with a $25,000 contribution from the city, would lead to a $500,000 federal grant aimed at adding flights to and from St. Louis.

The AA cuts will mean fewer nonstop flights from St. Louis to American's destinations, and smaller aircraft will be used on many of those flights. Those cuts take effect Nov. 1. In the meantime, American is shutting down its reservations center in St. Louis and cutting employees. It's also considering the closing of an overhaul facility, possibly the one in Kansas City.

The Cape Girardeau airport has made significant strides in beefing up air service in recent years. That task is continuing but is, without a doubt, going to be tougher as a result of the AA changes.

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