Nationwide, the pain of flight delays, cancellations and staffing shortages appears persistent. The latest consequence here in Arizona is the United Airlines decision to suspend flights to Denver from Flagstaff Pulliam Airport due to staffing issues and the high cost of fuel, Flagstaff city leaders said Monday.
Airport director Barry Helmick said in a statement that he and his staff are “disappointed” by United’s decision.
Flagstaff service ends Oct. 30
United will suspend its nonstop service between Flagstaff and Denver after Oct. 30. It will review whether to reinstate Flagstaff flights after a six-month review, according to Flagstaff officials.
“United flights out of Flagstaff are at 90% load capacity, meaning 90% of the seats are filled which is viewed as very successful in the commercial airline industry,” Helmick said. “We will continue to stay in contact with United during 2022 in hopes we can reestablish service in 2023. ”
United Airlines told the Republic that suspending service from Flagstaff was a “difficult decision” and its staff is working with customers on alternate travel plans.
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It was an’extremely popular’ route
United introduced the Flagstaff-Denver route in March 2019. Since then, it proved “extremely popular” with Flagstaff residents and visitors, airport spokeswoman Claire Harper said.
In addition to the United flights to Denver, Flagstaff Airport offers service with American Airlines to Phoenix and Dallas.
“Seeing that Denver is one of the three routes in (and) out of Flagstaff, we are unsure if we will see a drop with visitation, but hope they will choose to fly American to do leisure or business in our city,” Harper said ..
Flagstaff Airport staff estimated about 105,000 passengers traveled to and from the airport in the past year. But they couldn’t specify how many of them traveled specifically for United’s flights to and from Denver.
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The route wasn’t immune to other travel issues
Despite the route’s popularity, city leaders acknowledged how it wasn’t immune to airlines’ ongoing challenges.
“The load percentages are incredible, but we can’t control pilot, crew, plane shortages or on time issues that are happening nationwide,” said Heidi Hansen, Flagstaff’s interim deputy city manager.
Airport officials are continuing talks with American and United on additional routes and considering other airlines for new service, Harper said.
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Reach the reporter at Michael.Salerno@gannett.com. Follow him on Twitter @salerno_phx..
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