American Airlines has announced it will not be suspending commercial service to Stillwater Regional Airport after all and Stillwater’s leaders and business community were happy to get the news.
Mayor Will Joyce made the announcement Friday during his annual State of the City address to the Stillwater Chamber of Commerce.
He said Stillwater Regional Airport Director Paul Priegel had learned of the airline's reversal via text message the previous afternoon.
American Airlines will be continuing its regular flight schedule at Stillwater Regional Airport, Joyce said.
The airline had previously announced it would be suspending service to Stillwater and 14 other small airports beginning Oct. 7 and ending Nov. 3, but local leaders worried a temporary halt might drag out or become permanent. The airline has not issued a statement regarding the other markets affected by its announcement.
Commercial air service has been an advantage for Stillwater as it pursues economic development opportunities and has offered convenience for local travelers.
Sen. James Lankford met with Joyce and City Manager Norman McNickle on Sept. 1 and said airlines that received federal assistance under the CARES Act had to agree not to cut jobs or eliminate routes for a certain period of time.
Those service commitments are set to expire in October, he said.
Lankford said he felt confident that a deal would be worked out before the end of September to provide further assistance for air carriers, which are struggling as COVID-19 impacts both business and personal travel.
No deal had been announced at press time.
Joyce credited local residents who reached out to elected officials, asking them to encourage American Airlines to maintain its presence in Stillwater.
“This was a community effort … an example of how Stillwater can rise to meet a challenge,” he said.