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American Airlines decides to continue Roswell flights

Roswell Mayor Dennis Kintigh, right, talks about a decision by American Airlines to continue air service to Roswell. He spoke at a Wednesday meeting, and Roswell-Chaves County Economic Development Corp. President Mike Espiritu

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American Airlines has informed the city of Roswell that it will continue to provide commercial air service to Dallas from the Roswell Air Center during October, said Mayor Dennis Kintigh.

“There will be no suspension of air service in the month of October for Roswell Air Center,” he said.

He explained that a vice president of network planning for American Airlines called city officials Wednesday morning with the news.

The airline’s decision is a reversal of one made a week ago. Roswell’s only commercial air service informed city officials Wednesday night that it would temporarily suspend flight service from Oct. 7 to Nov. 3 to 15 smaller U.S. cities in several states. The airlines issued a national public announcement early Thursday morning.

The airline cited low passenger demand in those markets as a reason, as well as the Sept. 30 expiration of a minimum service requirement established by the U.S. Department of Transportation. That requirement was part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act and its Payroll Support Program. American Airlines received $5.8 billion in PSP funding, and the airlines that received the funding were required to continue at least some service to all cities they had been serving as of March 1. With that service requirement ending and no additional relief funding for airlines from Congress, American Airlines has announced thousands of layoffs and service suspensions.

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After the pandemic-related shutdown of airline service in March, American had been providing daily service to and from Dallas at the Roswell Air Center. It discontinued the daily Phoenix flights in April because of low demand.

Kintigh said the financial distress being experienced by U.S. airlines still needs to be addressed, and the city, for its part, is still working on the possibility that it might have to offer a financial package at some point in the future to the airline to ensure continued service here.

“There are still serious issues dealing with air travel in the United States at this time,” he said. “American Airlines has announced that they are laying off 19,000 employees, but we are working with American Airlines, and we are attempting to identify methods and resources to ensure not just the continued service to Dallas, but return service to Phoenix.”

Kintigh said city staff have been “working tirelessly” for the last week to keep commercial air service going.

Information is not yet available on whether American Airlines will restore service to other cities affected by its previous decision.

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Lisa Dunlap is a general assignment reporter for the Roswell Daily Record.