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System-wide cuts by American Airlines to impact spring, summer schedule from Missoula

An American Airlines flight prepares to depart from Missoula Montana Airport. (Martin Kidston/Missoula Current)

System-wide cuts announced this month by American Airlines will impact airports across the county, including Missoula Montana Airport, which will see reduced service by the carrier this spring and summer.

The Dallas-based airline announced is latest schedule over the weekend.

“They did some pretty sweeping cuts system-wide,” said Brian Ellestad, director of the Missoula airport. “They trimmed their system-wide scheduled anywhere from 6% to 12% over the summer months.”

For the past three years, American has provided daily nonstop service from Missoula to Dallas/Fort Worth and seasonal service to Chicago.

Missoula passengers with plans to travel from Missoula through Dallas this spring received notification from the carrier over the weekend of changes to their flight. The carrier also plans to discontinue service from Missoula to Chicago, at least for now.

“We did lose Chicago from them in the summer, but we still have United Airlines doing that market in the summer, and United is looking at making that up by upgrading to mainline aircraft, and upgrading some Denver seats as well,” Ellestad said.

The carrier said two issues are affecting its ability to meet prior schedules, including a pilot shortage and delays from Boeing on delivering its 787 aircraft. The aircraft delays are primarily impacting American’s international routes, not its regional service.

Despite the cuts, American will have more seats in the market than it did in prior years. The carrier will still fly a 10% larger schedule this May than it did last year.

“It’s still more seats out there than the industry had from American back in 2019,” Ellestad said. “The cuts we got still have more American seats in the market than we had in 2019, which was our record year.”

Ellestad added that the Missoula airport still expects this year to reach the record passenger levels it saw in 2019. The first phase of its new terminal opens in May and the summer schedule remains strong, despite the absence of American’s route to Chicago.

“We’re still trending okay,” Ellestad said. “Our goal to hit 2019 numbers, I still think we can do it.”