On July 16, 2003, American Airlines announced the elimination of its daily flight schedule from the Quad City International Airport to St. Louis effective November 1, 2003. While my initial reaction to this announcement, albeit premature, was "devastating," there is much more to the story. The story that has disappeared in the background is that American announced new nonstop service to Chicago O'Hare with four daily regional jets effective on November 1, 2003. This means that our frequent-flyer travelers with American will continue to have access to the American system with much greater frequency and options, thus allowing Quad City travelers to connect to 531 flights and 110 destinations out of the O'Hare hub. Many travelers do not realize that American is downsizing the St. Louis hub from 417 daily flights to 95 cities to 207 flights to 68 cities, with much less frequency. With the new St. Louis schedule, American will be focused on providing access for local St. Louis travelers first, as opposed to those connecting from elsewhere. American pulled service to several other cities from St. Louis including Anchorage, Cleveland, Honolulu, London, Louisville, New York Kennedy, Oklahoma City, Sacramento, Salt Lake City, San Jose, Toronto, and many other smaller cities. The top five destinations American Airlines served from the Quad Cities, via St. Louis, are Phoenix, Dallas, Orlando, Las Vegas and Tampa. Our passengers can easily connect to these cities with more flexibility, convenience, and frequency through the new American Eagle schedule to O'Hare as well as the other successful airline hubs based out of here. Travel agents and businesses will have many more options than were originally expressed in initial media announcements.
Over the past three years, more and more people have learned about and appreciated the convenience of utilizing our modern, new facility. Since 9/11 new nonstop service has been added to Chicago Midway, Cincinnati, and Orlando with new and current air carriers. Passenger traffic for 2003 is on a record pace for an all-time record year, and if other carriers decide to add additional service, that record could still be broken. Citizens of eastern Iowa and western Illinois are fortunate to have access to our seven hubs - Denver, Minneapolis, Chicago O'Hare and Midway airports, Detroit, Cincinnati, Atlanta, and Orlando. We have the largest carriers in the world with American, United, Northwest, and Delta, and we have two of the most successful low-cost carriers in ATA and AirTran. All of these air carriers I have mentioned are very interested in this market, and airline planners are aggressively looking at all options to provide additional seats and flights to the existing hubs. Meetings are already scheduled with several airlines and many phone calls have taken place since the July 16, 2003, announcement.
The Quad City International Airport has successfully navigated the choppy waters of change, consolidation, bankruptcies, and reduction of air service across our nation's airports. Despite American's restructuring of St. Louis into a smaller hub, we will maintain your airport's effectiveness as one of the community's primary tools for economic growth and health. The Quad City International Airport will continue to aggressively contribute to our regions vitality and success.
Bruce Carter, Director of Aviation,
Quad City International Airport