American Airlines cancels flights |

American Airlines cancels flights

Tamara Miller

Anyone hoping to fly in or out of the Eagle County Regional Airport on a direct American Airlines flight between Sept. 5 and Thanksgiving will have to change their plans.American Airlines will wrap up their summer fight schedule on Sept. 5, a week ahead of schedule. Anyone who booked a flight after Sept. 5 will likely land in Denver and then be connected to Eagle County via another airline, said Bill Horan, station manager for American Airlines at the Eagle County Airport. “It was a scheduling issue we were just notified as of a few weeks ago,” Horan said.American Airlines and Eagle County have been in a contract dispute all summer over language the airline wanted to change to 2003’s summer service contract. The company wants Eagle County to drop an indemnification clause which protects the county from lawsuits if a passenger is injured during a flight in or out of the airport. American Airlines also wanted the county to agree that any lawsuits would fall under Texas law, not Colorado law. County officials have refused to agree to those conditions. But that dispute has nothing to do with American Airlines’ decision to cut the summer service short, Horan said.This is the second year of the Fly Vail Summer program organizers have hailed as success at bringing more tourists to the valley. American Airlines was the first to participate in the program with a direct flight into and out of Dallas. Eagle County airport’s revenues increased by $130,000 last year, prompting county officials to add a United Airlines direct flight from Denver to the line-up. Passenger service for July is up 60 percent over last July, but United Airlines appears to be the biggest source of the increase. County officials suspect that the United flight may be siphoning passengers off the American flight.The cancellation does not affect the airline’s winter flight schedule, which begins the day before Thanksgiving. “We are the largest airline serving Eagle County and have the most available schedule out of Eagle County,” Horan said. The future of American’s summer flight service is being negotiated. Despite the contract dispute and schedule change, Commissioner Arn Menconi, who’s running for re-election this fall, said the American summer flight service has been successful.”It may seem presumtive, but I believe that we will work again together next year,” he said. Commissioner Tom Stone agreed. He said he hasn’t heard much more about the contract dispute with American Airlines and he believes American will continue summer service next year. “I still don’t understand why American was unwilling to have the same exact agreement with us last year,” he said. “I’m optimistic that we will come to some sort of an agreement.”Staff writer Tamara Miller can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 607 or colorado

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