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Lawton-Fort Sill airport scaling back flights

Lawton_Troubles in the airline industry are hitting close to home.  If you fly out of Lawton, you now will have fewer flight selections available.  But, there is good news.  American Airlines has re-introduced its retired ATR-72 airplane.  The plane had its first landing at the Lawton-Fort Sill Regional Airport on Wednesday.  American is cutting back on flights to Lawton, but the bigger plane will offer more seats every trip.

The airport started flights in its current partnership with Delta in March.  Now it's cutting back its Lawton flights, but it will not offer additional seats as American Airlines is.  While American is decreasing its flights from seven to five, Delta is cutting from two flights to one. 

The ATR-72 is out of retirement and welcoming Lawton fliers aboard.  "American is retiring their Saab 340s that they've been flying into Lawton for quite some time," said airport Manager Barbara McNally.  "They're replacing them with the ATR-72s which are 66-seaters."  She says American is committing the big planes to Lawton because fliers haven't let high gas prices keep them out of the sky.  "Our load factors have stayed steady, even through the oil crisis, even through the high prices, and there might be some adjustments in the airfares, but actually they have not been significant, not that I've been told anyway," said McNally.  "So, we're still doing well out here."

However, Delta is cutting back.  "Some of this has to do with the reductions they're making nationwide with some of the flights," said McNally.  "They've taken out a few of our flights, so we want to make sure that people are aware that Delta is still here, they're going strong.  There's just going to be some changes in the schedules."  The airline will continue to offer two daily flights on busy weekend travel days, but Tuesday through Thursday, there will be only one plane flying.

McNally says things may change for American, though.  "If they're seeing a need where they're booking higher - days where there's one - they could add a section into that day again," she said.  So they're still making adjustments to the schedule, trying to see what will benefit the community and benefit the airlines too."

Delta's flight changes will go into effect on September 20.  The Will Rogers Airport in Oklahoma City also saw some big changes recently.  US Airways pulled its service from the airport, and Express Jet went out of business altogether.

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