Ridership Up In Spite Of Decreased Flights

David Burhkuhl is the president of SPEA International, an Italian based technology company. Burhkuhl says he and his employees used to fly in and out of Tyler Pounds, but since American cut their daily schedule, they're having trouble booking the last minute flights they need. That leaves many of them driving to Dallas instead.

"If we average five, six or seven trips a week, then we're talking ten to  forteen hours of lost productivity," Buhrkuhl said.

Tom Mullins with the Tyler Chamber of Commerce says he's heard numerous complaints about American's scaled-back service.

"They're very frustrated. It's hurt some vendors here, in terms of bringing customers here, or making connections nationally and internationally. So, it's been a real hassle. We think American is leaving money on the table in Tyler," said Mullins.

Ridership is up at Tyler Pounds by more than two percent over this time last year. With fewer American flights leaving daily, that can only mean one thing.

Davis Dickson is the manager at the airport.

He said, "We're seeing a dramatic increase on the number of passengers on Continental Connection."

Most flights out of the airport are overbooked, leaving last minute business travelers high and dry. SPEA International says the inconvenience is taking a toll on the company, and if something doesn't change quickly, they may consider relocating closer to Dallas.

American Airlines flights out of Longview were cut back from five to three daily, and there is no other carrier to help supplement those flights.

Local management with American says they believe the flights would ultimately be restored at both airports.  Local business leaders say they've heard nothing official from American Airlines Corporate Headquarters.

Lindsay Wilcox/Reporting: lwilcox@kltv.com