Mayor hopes Sunport changes won’t sting

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – The Albuquerque Sunport is bracing for a possible drop in airline service as the largest air carrier, Southwest Airlines is expected to modify its flights in and out of the city in the next few months.

Just exactly what those changes will be is unclear; however, Albuquerque’s mayor is now saying the changes may not be as bad as many are anticipating.

Mayor R.J. Berry met privately with Southwest Airlines representatives just a couple weeks ago to talk about the changes. While he can’t discuss specifics, Mayor Berry says he’s hoping what’s to come won’t impact passengers too much.

“Even though they’re changing routes and change is always concerning to people, we’re looking at the net result for the city of Albuquerque, how many seats do we have flying from Albuquerque to Dallas everyday,” said Mayor Berry.

Southwest should announce the changes at the Sunport in the new couple weeks. The changes are expected because of the Federal Wright Amendment is expiring. For the last 36 years, that amendment has forced Southwest’s flights out of its hub at Love Field in Dallas, to land in states surrounding Texas.

Because of the amendment, for many of Southwest’s westward flights, have landed in Albuquerque, then connected to popular destinations like Los Angeles, Phoenix and Las Vegas.

The fear is that with the elimination of the Wright Amendment, Southwest will merely fly over Albuquerque for many flights that used to stop at the Sunport. The airline is already advertising a slew of new direct flights from Love Field that skip over Albuquerque.

Mayor Berry says when the amendment expires, Southwest could very well run fewer daily flights out of the Duke City. However, Berry says he’s pushing for the airline to keep the same level of capacity and the same number of seats.

Mayor Berry says he’s also pushing for Southwest to get more one-stop flights from Albuquerque to major markets, rather than two-stop flights.

“Keep us connected, help us with some additional one stop flights and then also make sure that we have enough empty seats leaving Albuquerque so that our folks have the capacity to get where they need to go,” said Mayor Berry.

In a statement to News 13, Southwest wrote, “we are expecting some changes, but we don’t anticipate they’ll be drastic. Albuquerque is still very much in the cards for us.”

Southwest is expected to talk about the changes on May 19th.

The Sunport recently lost Frontier Airlines, but gained JetBlue with daily non-stop flights to New York City, and gained daily non-stop Alaska Airlines flights to Seattle.

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