Kintigh is still trying to digest the announcement of grounded flights starting Oct. 7. American Airlines said the suspension may end Nov. 3. Kintigh was notified about the postponement on Wednesday night.
“The official announcement came out Thursday, that did not give us much in the way of time to try and work things out with American,” he said.
American Airlines blamed low demand during the COVID-19 pandemic, which turned into a travel slump for major air carriers.
“Roswell and the surrounding communities have had a good relationship with American Airlines, this has been a successful air service. It’s been useful to the communities and it’s been profitable to American Airlines,” Kintigh said.
“I am surprised and shocked there was no effort at dialogue with this community.”
More than a decade ago, the City of Roswell and other government entities in southeast New Mexico partnered with American Airlines for flights from Roswell to Dallas-Fort Worth.
Kintigh said American Airlines flights from Roswell to Phoenix were added in 2016.
He said American suspended the Phoenix air service weeks after the first COVID-19 cases were reported.
“We’ve recently gone back to two a day and then they cut back again when we got the word on this,” he said.
Prior to the start of COVID-19, Kintigh said American had 19 flights per week from Roswell to Dallas-Fort Worth.
Village of Ruidoso Mayor Lynn Crawford hopes suspension of flights from Roswell to Dallas-Fort Worth will be short-lived.
Crawford said the flights are popular with Ruidoso and Dallas-Fort Worth residents.
“We have a lot of locals that use that to get to the DFW area for business and for family and then vice-versa, we have folks that come in (and) we also talk to businesses and families that go and pick up their relatives and bring them to town,” he said.
There is an alternative in southeast New Mexico for people who may not want to drive to El Paso, Albuquerque, Lubbock or Midland-Odessa to catch a flight, according to Missi Currier, president and CEO of the Economic Development Corporation of Lea County.
She said United Airlines Express offers daily flights from the Lea County Regional Airport in Hobbs to Houston and Denver. “FlyHobbs is still available to serve all of Southeastern New Mexico and the Permian Basin,” Currier said in a statement.
“We are sorry to hear about American’s decision regarding Roswell, because access to our communities is pivotal to our economic recovery and stability,” Currier added. Crawford has faith that American Airlines suspension will be temporary. “We hate to see it be suspended. But, I’m very confident that it will be back in operation. Because it’s a popular jump from Roswell to DFW,” Crawford said.
Source: Mike Smith, Carlsbad Current-Argus