Tag Archives: American Airlines

They’re pitching this new flight service — seriously!

I’ve lived in Amarillo, Texas for more than 23 years.

During that time I have not seen such a concerted advertising campaign to pitch airline service out of this city’s international airport.

Until now.

American Airlines is about to launch new daily non-stop service from Rick Husband Amarillo International Airport to Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport. It’s a big deal. I’ve said as much already on this blog. I get the attraction for business travelers as well as for families seeking quick and convenient air service to a vacation destination.

AMA: economic lure for Amarillo

This new service appears to hold considerable promise for the airline and for the city. I appreciate and understand the value of modern, convenient air service. We have it here, to the great credit of City Hall and the city’s Economic Development Corporation.

That promise must explain the TV advertising I keep seeing.

It  makes me curious as to why.

  • Delta Airlines once launched daily non-stop service between AMA and Memphis, Tenn. It didn’t take. Delta terminated the service after a brief period of time. Then the airline stopped flying to Amarillo altogether.
  • Southwest has been flying daily to Las Vegas out of Amarillo for several years. I haven’t seen the TV ads promoting that service.
  • United has flown non-stop to Denver for some time, too. No ads. Now the airline is flying non-stop to George Bush-Houston Intercontinental Airport; it assumed that service when United merged with Continental Airlines. No ads, either.

Perhaps we are witnessing a new, more aggressive marketing strategy with American’s new service between AMA and PHX.

Given that TV ad time doesn’t come cheap, I hope the investment pays off for the entire city.

AMA: economic lure for Amarillo

I read with some interest a story this week about the Amarillo City Council approving a contract with American Airlines that sets up direct flights between Amarillo and Phoenix, Ariz.

The non-stop flights begin in April. The contract will be for one year; American Airlines will decide at the end of that year whether to extend it depending on its profitability.

My sincere hope is that American keeps the jets in the air between AMA and PHX.

Rick Husband Amarillo International Airport has been a favored lure for the city as an economic development tool. The Amarillo Economic Development Corporation once subsidized American Airlines jet service between AMA and Dallas Fort-Worth International Airport; AEDC took a portion of the sales tax revenue it collects and paid the airline to maintain jet service.

AEDC eventually ended the subsidy. The airline dropped jet service for a brief period, but since has restored full jet service to DFW. It now will fly jets out of Amarillo to Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport.

I’ve long touted the value of Amarillo’s air service to my friends and colleagues for as long as I have lived here. We don’t have many air carriers serving this community — American, Southwest and United. But two of those carriers, American and United, have plenty of international flights. When you depart AMA aboard either of those carriers, you are essentially just one stop away from connecting to flights that will take you anywhere on Earth.

Southwest is a highly profitable regional carrier and AMA gets service not just to Dallas Love Field, but also non-stop jet service to Las Vegas, Nev.

While much of our attention — mine included — has focused on downtown revival and on the extensive highway reconstruction along Interstates 40 and 27 as well as on Loop 335, we also can look with considerable pride at the airport that serves the Texas Panhandle.

I once spoke with Sarah Freese, the former aviation director at AMA, about the possibility of getting more carriers to serve this airport. She was hopeful at the time of attracting at least one more carrier. Freese has since moved on and I don’t know the status of the city’s effort to lure more carriers here. I hope it hasn’t withered away.

Amarillo’s airport remains a potentially big draw that will lead to the city’s brightening economic future.

AMA gets chance to boost city business climate

Amarillo long has seen its international airport as a gateway to the city’s economic well being.

If you look back over recent history, you find examples of the city forking over public money to keep jet service between the airport and Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport; critics called that initiative a form of “economic bribery.” I called it at the time a bold and creative initiative to help make business travel more comfortable for those seeking to do business in Amarillo.

The money came from sales tax revenue collected by the Amarillo Economic Development Corp.

So, with that the city has announced that American Airlines is going to begin daily non-stop service between Rick Husband Amarillo International Airport and Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport. They’ll fly once daily between AMA and PHX.

The AEDC, City Hall and the Chamber of Commerce see it as a big business opportunity, connecting Amarillo with a key hub out west, enabling travelers to avoid flying east to DFW just to connect and fly west.

That’s a good idea … if the city markets the opportunity as aggressively as it did the AEDC subsidy it paid to American Airlines back when it sought to entice the carrier to keep the jets flying to DFW.

Since I am fully retired and since my wife and I will spend the vast bulk of our domestic travel time in our fifth wheel RV rather than in airports, I don’t have a particular dog in this so-called fight.

For the rest of Amarillo — which appears to be entering an accelerated growth mode — this new air service is good news.

Let there be more.

AMA may get big new service boost

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Perhaps you’ve experienced this bit of airline travel frustration flying out of Amarillo.

You book a flight, say, to San Francisco. But to get there you have to fly about 90 minutes east to Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, where you board another aircraft and re-fly across land you’ve just watched out your window as you zoomed toward the Metroplex.

That might change significantly.

Amarillo aviation director Sarah Freese is negotiating with American Airlines to add another non-stop flight west to Phoenix — the one way out there in Arizona.

Thus, the notion goes that air passengers might stand a better chance of avoiding the dreaded re-flyover routine.

This is good news for those of us who like fly west once in a while.

Understand this: I don’t fly too much. I do venture back to my hometown of Portland, Ore., on occasion. Sure, I can get there with stops in Denver or Las Vegas, which are served by United and Southwest Airlines, respectively from Rick Husband Amarillo International Airport.

The Phoenix route, though, gives travelers from AMA another option that might help them find a better fare than they otherwise would pay.

http://amarillo.com/news/local-news/2016-09-06/amarillo-airport-hopes-add-non-stop-flight-phoenix?utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook_Amarillo_Globe-News

Freese received a Transportation Department grant to enable the city to seek the Phoenix connection.

The aviation director noted that flying east “when you want to go west” makes you “want to beat your head against the wall.”

Amen to that.

Let’s hope the city finalizes the Phoenix route soon and makes even better use of its still-shiny new airport terminal.

Changes coming to AMA

The Wright Amendment expires later this year, meaning that some changes are in store for an air carrier that serves Rick Husband Amarillo International Airport.

Southwest Airlines, headquartered at Dallas Love Field, will reduce its daily service at AMA from seven flights to five.

What’s the connection?

Well, the Wright Amendment, enacted in 1974, was meant to protect the then-new Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport by restricting travel from Love Field. Southwest Airlines planes couldn’t take off for destinations without having to stop first in close-in locations. The amendment, named after its author, former U.S. Rep. Jim Wright, D-Fort Worth, has been scrapped now that D-FW has grown up and become one of the world’s pre-eminent air terminals.

What’s in store for AMA? Two fewer Southwest flights daily, for starters. Airport officials aren’t signaling any panic. They’ll continue to compete for air service in and out of their shiny new terminal. Southwest will be able to depart Love Field for farther non-stop destinations.

Amarillo, though, isn’t without some economic weapons of its own to toss at carriers looking for a place to land. It’s used one of them with effectiveness in the past. The Amarillo Economic Development Corporation once paid American Airlines more than $1 million annually to retain jet service in and out of AMA. The money came from sales tax revenue it collected, believing that the jet service would attract business to Amarillo by providing more comfortable and speedier air service. Critics scoffed at the idea of paying for jet service, but it worked. American Airlines retained the jet service, then scrapped it for a time, and then returned it to Amarillo — as well as to other regional airports around the country.

I’m not too worried that AMA is going to be left in the cold once the Wright Amendment passes into history.

However, if business falters at AMA, the AEDC has a large pile of money at its disposal to dangle in front of those who are looking for some incentives to do business with Amarillo. The precedent has been set.

Air fare glitch helps someone else … again

So help me, I need to get in the good graces of the god of Air Fare Glitches.

Delta Airlines posted some ridiculously low air fares online this week and some customer snapped up the fares. The airline company fixed the mistake, but said it would honor the fares purchased before it caught the mistake.

http://news.msn.com/offbeat/delta-to-honor-extremely-cheap-ticket-prices-posted-by-mistake

Why can’t I ever get in on that action?

Understand, of course, that Delta Airlines doesn’t fly in and out of Rick Husband Amarillo International Airport, so this goof wouldn’t benefit me in the least. But other airlines have had similar problems — United, American and Southwest, for example, which do fly out of AMA.

I’m always caught flat-footed, never getting wind of these mess-ups until after they’ve been resolved.

Heck, my wife and I can barely redeem frequent-flier miles when we’ve earned enough of them to travel somewhere for “free.” I get on the website, look to book a redeem the mileage and learn that all the seats set aside for those with such awards have been taken up already. Crap!

We did hit the jackpot once, redeeming miles for a free flight to Buffalo, N.Y., to celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary at nearby Niagara Falls. OK, so I’m not a total loser in this regard.

I’ll hand it to Delta, though, for honoring its mistake. I just wish I could have been one of the honorees.

AMA to stay in the game with new airline

American Airlines and US Airways want to merge. Texas officials had protested their merger … until Tuesday.

The state has reached an agreement with the potential new airline giant that seeks a guarantee that the airline will serve 22 Texas cities for at least the next three years. The announcement came from Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott — who also is running to become the state’s next governor.

http://www.texastribune.org/2013/10/01/abbott-appear-american-airlines-ceo/

What does this mean for Rick Husband Amarillo International Airport? It means AMA stays in the American Airlines network of terminals now being served.

AMA has some additional skin in this game, given Amarillo’s unique relationship with American Airlines. The city once poured several millions of public dollars into keeping jet service at AMA. It came in the form of sales tax money collected by the Amarillo Economic Development Corporation. Some communities, even some media, scoffed at Amarillo for paying more than $1 million annually to American Airlines to keep the jets flying between AMA and Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport. The strategy served to boost the city’s business climate.

That was then. American flies jets exclusively now in and out of AMA.

The merger likely now will go through, even though the federal government is protesting it. The feds contend the merger likely would be bad for competition and would drive the already-expensive cost of air travel even farther upward.

American Airlines and its parent company AMR have been huge corporate partners in Texas. The deal also means the airline will keep its headquarters in the Metroplex and that D-FW Airport will serve as the airline’s major hub.

Communities such as Amarillo, though, need the service to D-FW. Let’s hope the deal struck between the state and the company will lead to a longer-term commitment to this growing community.

Airline merger equals campaign issue

If I understand Tom Pauken correctly, the fact that the state’s attorney general actually supports the federal government’s decision to fight a proposed airline merger makes the AG’s position a non-starter.

Why? Because the AG has been fighting the feds for years and the state simply cannot possibly be on the same side as the enemy — no matter the merits of the case.

Ah … Texas politics. Nothing like it.

Pauken is running for the Republican nomination for Texas governor against AG Greg Abbott, who says he fears a proposed merger between American Airlines and US Airways would result in fare increases and reduced service to rural areas.

http://www.texastribune.org/2013/08/15/pauken-attacks-abbott-opposing-airline-merger/

The feds say the same thing about the proposed merger. Thus, Abbott and the U.S. Justice Department are on the same page on this very specific issue. Abbott and/or his staff of lawyers presumably have analyzed the specifics of the case and determined that, by golly, maybe the feds have a point.

Isn’t that what lawyers do? Pauken, himself a lawyer as well as a former Texas Republican Party chairman, ought to understand that principle.

Instead, he seems to be suggesting that Abbott — who is fighting on behalf those who want to repeal the Affordable Care Act — simply must remain opposed to President Obama, Eric Holder and the federal government because they’re just so darn unpopular in Texas.

This is where every single policy statement becomes a campaign issue.

Ain’t Texas politics grand?

Feds block airline merger

The federal government’s intervention in the proposed merger between American Airlines and US Airways leaves me a bit puzzled.

The link attached to this blog notes that the feds want to prevent further escalation of air fares, which they believe will occur with this merger; but previous mergers have had precisely that effect already.

http://news.yahoo.com/airline-mergers-already-led-higher-fares-040223675.html

Amarillo is served by American Airlines, which flies several times a day to and from Rick Husband Amarillo International Airport to Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport. The city has skin in American’s future here, given that we once subsidized – through economic development money collected from sales tax revenue – jet service between AMA and DFW.

On one hand, I applaud the government for looking out for the flying public. On other hand, the feds seem a bit tardy in joining this fight, given the direction air fares already have gone during the past decade.

My wife and I have made something of a pact between us already that from here on, virtually all our future travel throughout North America will be aboard our shiny new travel vehicle. We plan to spend extensive time on the road from this day forward.

But we do have some overseas destinations on our agenda. We’ll make that decision when the time is right.

But the airlines that serve AMA need not look to us to spend much time sitting in cramped seats, with our knees tucked up under our chins – all the while having to pay extra for a bag of peanuts.

I reckon we’re not alone in our view of air travel these days. I also am presuming that the marketplace will determine whether we continue to pay through the nose for air travel.