11/19/09 American Eagle’s expanded service starts today with the launching of a daily flight to Los Angeles and the addition of a second daily flight to Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport.
Santa Fe Municipal Airport Manager Jim Montman believes the new direct link between Los Angeles and Santa Fe will be successful. “It’s one people from around here have been asking about for years,” he said.
But, he added, “It will probably take a while for it to get established.”
The first two American Eagle flights to Los Angeles were about half full when Montman checked earlier this week.
A check Tuesday afternoon showed there were 14 empty seats out of 44 for today’s flight from Santa Fe to Los Angeles and 23 empty seats for the return flight Friday.
But if the other American Eagle flights to Santa Fe are any indication, the regional jet service to Los Angeles will do well.
“The DFW flights are running full almost all the time,” Montman said. “It’s only on Tuesday and Saturday that tickets are usually available.”
The expanded service will be welcomed in the terminal of Santa Fe Municipal Airport by Gov. Bill Richardson, Santa Fe Mayor David Coss and officials from American Eagle, among others, in ceremonies that start at 12:30 p.m. and conclude when the flight from Santa Fe to Los Angeles departs.
“We are pleased to serve Santa Fe via our LAX hub,” said American Eagle spokeswoman Andrea Huguely, in an e-mail.
American Eagle in June started once-daily service to and from Santa Fe and Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. It’s a service that quickly gained acceptance, according to Huguely.
“The Santa Fe-DFW market was doing well,” she said. “So we added the second flight.”
On some occasions, American Eagle has needed to take travelers to Albuquerque for flights there because none were available out of Santa Fe, Montman said.
At Wings Travel Center, Valerie Alarid said agents have been booking travelers on the American Eagle flights to Dallas/Fort Worth since the flight originated, but not yet to LAX.
That will change.
“(Los Angeles) is a great market, and we expect it to be very popular also,” Alarid said.
Among the airport businesses that have benefited from the new flights is the Santa Fe Airport Grill, owned by Lisa Van Allen.
“It’s been great for us,” Van Allen said. “And it’s great for the airport. Having even one flight has given us enough business to be open” until 4 p.m., she said.
Montman said there have been no complaints from residents living near the Santa Fe airport about noise from American Eagle jets, as had been feared.
“Most of the ones I’ve talked to said it’s not near as noisy or irritating as they had thought it might be,” he said. “Most of them have hardly noticed it.”
The American Eagle flights to and from Santa Fe use 44-seat Embraer ERJ-140 regional jets, which fly at an altitude of 40,000 feet, at a speed of 500 miles per hour.
By Bob Quick | The New Mexican
Posted: 11/18/2009, 7:00 PM Mountain time