story by Aric Mitchell
Delta Air Lines, Inc., announced Monday (June 25) the removal of 25 flights to the Memphis area, including service from Fort Smith Regional Airport.
But while the decision is bad news for Memphis, it is actually a positive for Fort Smith Regional, according to Airport Executive Director John Parker.
“Memphis is taking the brunt of all reductions from Delta. This is about the fourth round they’ve experienced. Instead Delta will now be doing three daily round trips to Atlanta, so Fort Smith will still be served in this market by three Delta flights. They’ll just be going directly to one of the busiest hubs in the country,” Parker said Tuesday (June 26).
Delta began service from Fort Smith to Atlanta, the company’s home base, on June 7, 2012. “Due to stronger passenger demand for our Fort Smith (FSM) to Atlanta (ATL) service, effective Sept. 5, 2012, Delta will increase peak day frequencies between ATL and FSM from one per day to three per day. At the same time, Delta will cease operations between FSM and its Memphis (MEM) hub,” wrote Mike Anastas, regional director at Delta, to Fort Smith Regional on Tuesday.
Anastas continued: “Delta is excited to connect the FSM region to more than 200 destinations via ATL and are confident passengers will prefer the enhanced connectivity only ATL can provide. Unfortunately the FSM-MEM market was not financially viable and with high fuel costs and a limited market between FSM and MEM, we made the difficult decision to exit the market.”
Aside from the three flights to Atlanta, Parker noted that Fort Smith Regional will continue its relationship with American Airlines, which operates four round-trip flights between Fort Smith and Dallas/Fort Worth.
For the first five months of 2012, Fort Smith enplanements totaled 35,799, up 10.8% compared to the 2011 period. May enplanements at the Fort Smith Regional Airport totaled 8,202, up 9.53% compared to May 2011.
Enplanements at the Fort Smith Regional Airport during 2011 eked out a 0.12% gain over 2010, marking two consecutive years of enplanement growth at the airport. For the year, the airport posted 86,234 enplanements compared to 86,129 during 2010.
During 2011, Delta accounted for 35,782, or 41.4%, of the airport’s 86,234 total enplanements.