American is keeping LAX-Santa Barbara flights, despite report saying otherwise

American is staying in Santa Barbara. Handout photo by Lawrence Anderson.

American is staying in Santa Barbara. Handout photo by Lawrence Anderson.

American Airlines is not pulling out of Santa Barbara Airport, as a Barrons.com blog post published Wednesday suggested, airport spokeswoman Lynn Houston told me.

American did briefly pull the flights to Los Angeles from industry computer systems, but it turned out to a be an error, Houston said. The error has been corrected and will not affect any operations, Houston said.

“It was glitch and a computer generated error,” Houston said. “It’s not true.”

Barron’s quoted two industry financial experts as saying the Santa Barbara move was probably the first schedule change made by the new American management and that it was a good decision. According to Bob McAdoo and Scott Buck of Imperial Capital:

Last week, AAL pulled all of its American-branded March and April Santa Barbara flights from industry computers…These small changes, likely the first in a long list of adjustments, should boost American’s earnings by only $4-5mn annually, in our opinion. Other likely broad scale changes should come in the next few months and have the potential, we believe, to bring tens of millions more to the bottom line as we move through 2014.

Eventually, American probably will make some schedule changes, and airports like Santa Barbara could be on the chopping block. Merger partner US Airways serves Santa Barbara from Phoenix, so it’s certainly possible that the new American will not keep flights from both Phoenix and Los Angeles. But that time has not arrived yet.

The American flights are operated as American Eagle by Skywest Airlines.

In addition to American Eagle and US Airways Express, Frontier, United Express and Alaska also serve Santa Barbara. The airport has 31 daily departures and serves about 720,000 passengers per year, Houston said.

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