American Airlines drops plans to cut Reno-Chicago air service

Reno will not be losing all of its air service to a critical hub after all.

American Airlines on Saturday reversed its decision to pull its two remaining flights to Chicago on Nov. 1, Nevada Sens. Harry Reid and John Ensign announced in a joint news release.

The action came a day after American announced the cuts in response to the company's financial difficulties following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the East Coast.

Reid learned about the reversal in a phone call Saturday afternoon from Don Carty, chairman and CEO of the Dallas-based airline.

"The recent terrorist attack has made us painfully aware of how truly reliant we are on air travel," Reid, D-Nev., said. "It is especially vital that places like Reno have reliable air service, and I am pleased that American Airlines executives have decided to reinstate the flights."

American Airlines spokesman Dale Morris declined comment, saying the company would announce any changes in a news release later this week.

American was under pressure from Nevada's congressional delegation to keep the Chicago flights. The delegation used the approval of a federal bailout of the airline industry as leverage.

Reid, the Senate's second-ranking Democrat, expressed his concerns in a series of recent conversations with Carty.

Ensign, R-Nev., a member of the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Aviation, also pressured Carty to keep the Chicago flights.

"These flights are critical to connecting Reno to East Coast markets and international destinations," Ensign said. "We simply could not let American cut off this vital service."

And in a letter sent Friday, Rep. Jim Gibbons, R-Nev., urged Carty to reconsider the decision to cut the Chicago flights.

Gibbons noted that Nevada's tourism industry relies heavily on airline service, and about 15,000 Nevadans have lost jobs in the last two weeks due to a post-terrorism slowdown.

Earlier last week, Reno officials learned that they'll lose half their flights to another major hub, Dallas, when Delta Air Lines ends its two flights there Nov. 1.

That will leave only two Dallas flights, both on American.


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