American Airlines is eliminating service entirely to Long Beach, California; Columbus, Georgia; and Del Rio, Texas. American Airlines is the only carrier serving Del Rio. This is the result of losing Mesa Airlines as a regional partner.
While American had apparently planned to load these changes over the weekend, news was broken by aviation watchdog JonNYC.
So far, Long Beach (LGB) and Columbus airport in Georgia. AA exiting.
I’m pretty sure they are getting offered jobs at LAX or another AA airport in the case of LGB.
— 🇺🇦 JonNYC 🇺🇦 (@xJonNYC) January 5, 2023
According to an American Airlines spokesperson,
In response to the regional pilot shortage affecting the airline industry and soft demand, American Airlines has made the difficult decision to end service in Columbus, Georgia (CSG), Del Rio, Texas (DRT) and Long Beach, California (LGB) this spring.
We’re extremely grateful for the care and service our team members provided to our customers in these cities, and are working closely with them during this time. We’ll proactively reach out to customers scheduled to travel to offer alternate arrangements.
The airline’s only Long Beach service was from Phoenix, operated by Mesa Airlines. Their Dallas – Columbus service was also operated by Mesa, though Charlotte – Columbus was flown by wholly-owned regional carrier Piedmont.
Del Rio, Texas which is on the Mexican border at one point had ExpressJet (United Express) service to Houston. However, American’s Dallas service has been its only commercial operation for some time. That’s been operated by SkyWest. American isn’t able to fully replace its Mesa flying with SkyWest, so the priority for SkyWest’s Bombardier regional jets (and pilots!) is elsewhere.
Mesa didn’t have the pilots to operate all of its commitments, and it was losing money. Its deal with American ran through the end of 2025, but the two carriers terminated their deal early. American claimed they wanted to terminate because Mesa was unreliable. Mesa says this is false and that American actually wanted to extend their deal. American would have been happy to keep paying money-losing rates to Mesa! United entered into a new deal with Mesa, and received 10% of the business.
Mesa has a reputation as the bottom-feeder of the regional industry, derisively known as ‘Messy’ for the poor condition in which some of their cabin interiors are kept. Their flying for American has generally been scheduled to end April 3. Moving to other carriers is better for American’s passengers where it’s possible, but it isn’t always possible. So American drops its least profitable routes, and that’s bad for passengers in those cities. Columbus, Georgia at least still has Delta service to Atlanta, while Del Rio will need to open a checkbook and look for an airline.