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American Eagle Drops Santa Barbara Flight to Dallas

Beginning April 6, local passengers will have to connect through Los Angeles to get to American Airlines' Dallas-Fort Worth hub.

Santa Barbara travelers will soon lose their direct connection to Dallas after American Airlines announced it will drop the daily American Eagle flight to Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport as of April 6.

Santa Barbara Airport director Karen Ramsdell said the airline told her the single flight a day no longer made sense financially, despite routinely flying at 80 percent to 85 percent full. She said she was disappointed to lose the flight and heard that similar Dallas flights have been canceled from other airports.

Ramsdell said American Airlines is retiring many planes that are less fuel-efficient, like the MD-80. Because American Eagle’s planes are needed to fill in as older planes cycle out, the parent company is moving its subsidiary carrier to help out at busier airports.

Because the Santa Barbara-Dallas route is the longest American Eagle flies on a regional jet, the cost savings add up when the company considered it could make two or three trips in the same amount of time, she said.

American Eagle will still be making flights to Los Angeles, which will then connect to Dallas.

“The bad thing about losing Dallas is that it reduces our options for people to get to the South,” Ramsdell said.

The Dallas flight will be the only cancellation.

American Eagle has been flying out of Santa Barbara since the 1980s, left in 1995 for economic reasons, then returned a decade later. Ramsdell said she hopes the airline will return as the economy stabilizes.

“But they have to be assured that they can make money here,” she said. “Then they might very seriously consider it.”

Meanwhile, airport officials have not yet decided on a replacement carrier to pursue.

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