Fuel price hikes cut number of flights in U.S.

2008-07-21 02:37:35 GMT       2008-07-21 10:37:35 (Beijing Time)       Xinhua English

The number of airline flights across the United States has been drastically reduced due to increases in fuel price and decreased spending by travelers, local media said on Sunday.

The three big domestic airlines, American, Delta and United are slicing service dramatically everywhere, local Daily Breeze newspaper reported.

The Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) has been among the hardest hit, with the number of flights scheduled through the airport being dropped 16.4 percent in the last 12 months, the paper said.

American Airline plans to eliminate 86 LAX arrivals and departures per week in November. Delta plans to eliminate 68, and United plans to axe 266 flights in and out of LAX per week as well.

And that's just the big planes, the airlines said, as the affiliated regional airlines flying under the big companies' names plan to slash more than 1,200 weekly commuter flights at LAX, said the report.

The Daily Breeze reported the decrease in landings means a decrease in landing fees just as LAX is planning a major expansion funded by that revenue.

The Los Angeles World Airports staff is devising a new fee structure for consideration by the city's Airports Commission later this summer, the paper said.

Airport spokeswoman Nancy Castles told the paper she could not corroborate the 16.4 percent figure. But an industry expert said service cuts are going to cost LAX millions in landing fees, concession profits and parking lot revenues.

Aviation analyst Mike Boyd said the recent cuts may be just the beginning. "I wouldn't be surprised if the airlines took a chain saw and hacked away at their schedules even further.

"LAX is not in a death spiral and is still going to be a busy and airport, but I predict deeper cuts in the next few months," he told the Daily Breeze.

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