American Airlines

American Airlines

Lake Charles Regional Airport Director Heath Allen said Thursday that he is excited to have American Airlines flights back in service after a close to three-month temporary suspension by the airline.

The airport resumed American Airlines flights Jan. 5, including three inbound and three outbound flights daily from Lake Charles to Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. The airport also has two inbound and two outbound United Airlines flights to and from Houston.

“(American Airlines) told us throughout this thing it was temporary,” Allen said of the suspension. “They kept their word on that.”

Lake Charles was one of 15 markets that American Airlines announced Aug. 20 would have their flights temporarily suspended. The suspension — put into place because of the negative impact COVID-19 had on air travel — was supposed to be Oct. 7-Nov. 3. It was extended into early January, Allen said.

The suspension was announced one week before Hurricane Laura’s devastating landfall in Southwest Louisiana Aug. 27.

Restoring American Airlines flights at Lake Charles Regional Airport is important because Dallas/Fort Worth is the top outbound market for travelers leaving Lake Charles and staying in Dallas for business, Allen said. Having the connectivity to such a large airport is a major economic incentive for Southwest Louisiana, he added.

“The impact is huge,” Allen said.

The Travel Security Administration reported a 60 percent drop in the number of passengers passing through security checkpoints in 2020, compared to 2019. Allen said the Lake Charles airport experienced a large dip in passengers at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, it was rebounding quicker than the national average, down only 23 percent from July 2019 to July 2020.

Allen said flight demand may improve by the second quarter of this year.

“January is always the slowest month of the year for air travel in any market, short of winter destinations,” he said. “It’s going to take time to ramp up.”

Allen said the United Airlines flights “have been essentially full” since Hurricanes Laura and Delta. He said insurance adjusters, recovery workers and officials with area businesses are flying into Lake Charles regularly to work on rebuilding. Allen said this activity could mean more passengers on American Airlines flights.

While the airport is fully functional, Allen said plenty of repairs from the hurricanes remain.

“It’s a pain, but we have a blank slate to work with,” he said. “I think it’ll work out in the end.”

Three of the 15 markets have had American Airlines flights permanently dropped. They include Newburgh, N.Y., New Haven, Conn. and Williamsport, Pa.By John Guidroz

jguidroz@americanpress.com

Lake Charles Regional Airport Director Heath Allen said Thursday that he is excited to have American Airlines flights back in service after a close to three-month temporary suspension by the airline.

The airport resumed American Airlines flights Jan. 5, including three inbound and three outbound flights daily from Lake Charles to Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. The airport also has two inbound and two outbound United Airlines flights to and from Houston.

“(American Airlines) told us throughout this thing it was temporary,” Allen said of the suspension. “They kept their word on that.”

Lake Charles was one of 15 markets that American Airlines announced Aug. 20 would have their flights temporarily suspended. The suspension — put into place because of the negative impact COVID-19 had on air travel — was supposed to be Oct. 7-Nov. 3. It was extended into early January, Allen said.

The suspension was announced one week before Hurricane Laura’s devastating landfall in Southwest Louisiana Aug. 27.

Restoring American Airlines flights at Lake Charles Regional Airport is important because Dallas/Fort Worth is the top outbound market for travelers leaving Lake Charles and staying in Dallas for business, Allen said. Having the connectivity to such a large airport is a major economic incentive for Southwest Louisiana, he added.

“The impact is huge,” Allen said.

The Travel Security Administration reported a 60 percent drop in the number of passengers passing through security checkpoints in 2020, compared to 2019. Allen said the Lake Charles airport experienced a large dip in passengers at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, it was rebounding quicker than the national average, down only 23 percent from July 2019 to July 2020.

Allen said flight demand may improve by the second quarter of this year.

“January is always the slowest month of the year for air travel in any market, short of winter destinations,” he said. “It’s going to take time to ramp up.”

Allen said the United Airlines flights “have been essentially full” since Hurricanes Laura and Delta. He said insurance adjusters, recovery workers and officials with area businesses are flying into Lake Charles regularly to work on rebuilding. Allen said this activity could mean more passengers on American Airlines flights.

While the airport is fully functional, Allen said plenty of repairs from the hurricanes remain.

“It’s a pain, but we have a blank slate to work with,” he said. “I think it’ll work out in the end.”

Three of the 15 markets have had American Airlines flights permanently dropped. They include Newburgh, N.Y., New Haven, Conn. and Williamsport, Pa.

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