Southwest cuts 22 Sky Harbor flights - East Valley Tribune: News

Southwest cuts 22 Sky Harbor flights

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Posted: Tuesday, August 26, 2008 11:16 am | Updated: 10:40 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

Southwest Airlines, one of the two biggest carriers at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, will cut 11 flights to and 11 flights from the local hub Jan. 11.

Las Vegas-based charter Vision Air already abandoned Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport.

There's a shred of good news for Valley air travelers - Southwest will add a new round-trip flight between Phoenix and Burbank, Calif., said Whitney Eichinger, airline spokeswoman.

But those hoping to board a plane in Phoenix and land in Birmingham, Ala., will be out of luck next year. The only nonstop flight on that route has been scrapped. Birmingham-bound fliers can still get there by connecting flights, Eichinger said.

All other Sky Harbor flights Southwest scratched have at least a couple of other daily options, she said.

The airline will scrap one flight each from Phoenix to Baltimore, Houston, El Paso, Texas, Los Angeles, Oakland, Calif., Oklahoma City, Omaha, Neb., Salt Lake City, St. Louis and Tulsa, Okla. The inbound version of all those flights also will get scrubbed.

The cuts are based on declining demand, Eichinger said, and part of a nearly 200-flight decrease planned by the Dallas-based airline to begin in January.

"Winter months are lower demand. This accommodates for the decrease in demand and gives us a cushion for winter travel," she said. "Some flights may come back around spring break time and as summer rolls in."

Vision Air was the first carrier to offer scheduled flights from Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport - a twice-weekly route between Mesa and north Las Vegas. Vision dropped that route a year ago, but the company had been flying a twice weekly charter service to Laughlin, Nev.

The casino that commissioned the charter did not renew the contract, which expired last Thursday, said Brian Sexton, Gateway spokesman. And Vision isn't returning calls, he said.

Nearly all U.S. airlines have announced planned flight cutbacks, some to begin as early as September.

Cash-squeezed consumers are expected to stop flying in droves once summer vacation season ends.

Tempe-based US Airways plans to start major flight cuts in the fourth quarter, said airline spokeswoman Valerie Wunder. The hometown carrier already announced plans to shed up to 9 percent of its flights.

But US Airways' top rival in the West, Southwest, said it would be expanding, not contracting like the rest of the big U.S. carriers. Until Tuesday, that is, when it revealed plans to dump more than 190 flights nationwide in January.

But one smaller U.S. airline is still expanding. Allegiant Air, which remains the sole carrier operating at Gateway, will expand its schedule at the East Valley airport from 14 flights weekly to 40 by Thanksgiving, Sexton said.

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