Airport fights to bring more flights to Lawton

Lawton_Just one month after the Lawton/Ft.Sill Regional Airport got two regional jets, American Airlines has taken them away. Airport Manager Barbara McNally said the Airline's decision was incentive based and the airport in Roswell, NM was willing to offer more to bring the jets there. But, she said, while the jets were here, they were filled to 90 percent capacity, an excellent response and proof that Lawton needs the airplane seats.

McNally says they are closer than ever to negotiating a deal with Delta Airlines that will bring more service to Lawton. Right now, they can only look at Delta, because the grant they have is specifically geared toward that airline. So, they would have to wait for the grant to expire in September, and then apply for another grant under a different airline name.

Lawton has been looking at Delta since the beginning because our traffic matches their flight paths. "70 percent easily of our traffic is east coast or southeast travel, so the Atlanta market makes sense for us," McNally said. "And Delta knows that, so even though they're not committed yet, we're still hopeful."

And as for American Airlines pulling those two regional jets from our airport, McNally said the airline can't ignore the great response they've had. "I think we'll see them back here," she said. McNally says Roswell offered a $1.6 million revenue guarantee, something Lawton just couldn't compete with. "It is completely an incentive driven industry nowadays," she said. "They've gotten a really good deal at another location, where they've come up with community incentives to start up jet service."

But McNally says even though those regional jets aren't going to be here, the airport will still be offering seven flights a day, just with ten fewer seats per plane.  And McNally points out that if and when another airline comes to town, local passengers will benefit. "When you have competition in the market, and even if they're going to two different hubs, you'll see the fares come down, the competition is a good thing," she said.