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Southwest flights cut at Bob Hope

Loss of 42 Southwest round trips will cost airport more than $5,200 per week.

September 05, 2013|By Daniel Siegal, daniel.siegal@latimes.com

Bob Hope Airport officials announced this week that Southwest Airlines will be making major cuts to its fall schedule, but the airfield and the company have different explanations for the change.

Starting on Sept. 29, Southwest will eliminate 42 round-trip flights a week out of the airport. The change most likely is due to the airline selling aircraft acquired in its purchase of AirTran to Delta, said Mark Hardyment, the airport's director of noise and environment programs, during a meeting of the Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority on Monday.

"The divestiture of 717s from Southwest's fleet will put a short- and near-term pinch on Southwest's fleet and their ability to stretch that reduced-size fleet over the number of routes that they serve," Hardyment said.

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But Southwest spokesman Brad Hawkins said on Wednesday that the adjustment was just a reaction to the customary drop in passengers during the fall months, which follow the peak summer travel season.

"In September and October, we traditionally see less traffic than in the peak travel months, and that's just simple seasonality," Hawkins said. "AirTran didn't really touch Burbank, never served that market — this is all about an adjustment to better fit passenger traffic we see at Burbank."

Whatever the reason for the cuts, they will take the daily number of Southwest flights at Burbank from 50 to 43, a drop of roughly 14%, and from 325 round-trip flights a week to 283, a decline of roughly 13%.

Right now, those 325 flights a week make up about 66% of the airport's roughly 492 scheduled round-trip flights.

Starting in October, the airport is scheduled for only 446 flights a week because of Southwest's cuts and because of four flights being eliminated by Alaska Airlines and US Airways.

Losing those flights hurts the airport because even if Southwest can maintain equal numbers of passengers on fewer flights, the airfield will lose out on landing fees, calculated by weight for every plane that lands at the airfield.

Based on the current schedule and fleet information for Southwest, airport spokesman Victor Gill said the airport stands to lose $5,214 per week while the cuts are in place.

All Southwest destinations will be affected, but not equally.

Denver will lose one Saturday round-trip flight, while Las Vegas will lose two flights every day except Saturday.

Two round-trip flights will be eliminated to Oakland every day Monday through Thursday, with three cut on Friday and one on Sunday.

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