American Airlines is planning to cut service to three small airports served by regional carriers, citing an industry-wide shortage of pilots and “soft demand.” The Fort Worth-based carrier will stop flying to Del Rio International Airport in Texas near the Mexico border, Long Beach Airport in California, and Columbus Airport in Georgia. American is the only commercial airline that flies into Del Rio, meaning that the city of 35,000 people near Laughlin Air Force Base won’t have any passenger service unless another carrier steps in. American Airlines spokesman Derek Walls said in a statement that the airline has made the difficult decision to end service in these three locations due to the regional pilot shortage affecting the airline industry and soft demand. The airline intends to contact affected customers to offer alternate arrangements.
Furthermore, the city of Del Rio Airport supports 135 jobs and has an annual economic impact of $19 million. In Columbus, Georgia, American uses its wholly owned regional carriers PSA Airlines and Piedmont Airlines, along with SkyWest and Mesa Airlines. The Columbus Airport is Georgia’s fourth-busiest airport with about 155,000 departing passengers a year. American uses SkyWest and Mesa for its flights into Long Beach with three daily routes to Phoenix. American is among the smaller carriers at Long Beach Airport, competing with Delta, Hawaiian and Dallas-based Southwest Airlines, which has about 39 daily flights to 14 destinations, including Dallas Love Field. Long Beach was the country’s 76th busiest airport in 2019, with more than 1.7 million departing passengers.