Airline to drop NY route


FLINT ( – Just three months after they started, American Eagle Airlines is grounding its underperforming flights from Flint to the Big Apple.

A spokeswoman for the airline confirmed the move Monday and said the last flights on the route will be April 7.

“We cannot afford to keep those flying,” said Andrea Huguely, a Dallas-based spokeswoman for American. “There was not enough traffic at this point in time.”

Bishop airport director James L. Rice said talks are under way with Northwest Airlines to salvage that carrier’s direct service from Flint to New York’s LaGuardia Airport.

“We know we have the market for it,” Rice said. “Now we just hope Northwest will continue. If they care about our community, they will continue it.”

The Flint Journal could not reach Northwest for comment Monday.

Northwest announced in late August that it would start flying to New York, shortly after American announced it would offer that same route.

Airport officials were unhappy with the dual service even before it started, suggesting that the two carriers could be involved in a no-win, head-to-head battle in which both would lose money.

A Northwest spokesman said last year that the airline wasn’t playing spoiler and was “committed” to the route.

Rice said American has been filling only about 40 percent of seats on its 37-seat ERJ-135 jets between the two cities. Northwest loads have been only slightly better, he said.

The percentage of seats filled by an airline is a key to its profitability.

On average, airlines filled 72.1 percent of all available seats on departing flights from Flint in December.

If Northwest is able to pick up American fliers to New York, the route could be profitable, Rice said.