American Airlines Returns to SRQ

The independent carrier Trans States Airlines/AmericanConnection has been added to the flight line with daily, nonstop flights to St. Louis.


American Airlines, the top passenger carrier in the U.S., inaugurates service out of Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport today after an almost five-year absence.

The independent carrier Trans States Airlines/AmericanConnection has been added to the flight line with daily, nonstop flights to St. Louis.

Preliminary bookings on the 50-seat jets have been "genuinely pleasing," said William Mishk, vice president of marketing and planning at Trans States.

American Airlines pulled out of Sarasota-Bradenton and Florida's west coast in 2001. Wooing the airline back has been a priority for airline officials ever since.

Through a code-sharing agreement with American, the St. Louis-based Trans States will market itself as AmericanConnection, offering American Airlines benefits like frequent-flier miles.

Mishk promised that more destinations would follow if the local community responded to the service. It's a little too soon to make an assessment, he said.

"We're pleased," Mishk said. "We had some casual conversations about other opportunities. We're not in a position to consider any of those until we get a initial review of how the Sarasota flight does."

Service to St. Louis has a precedent at SRQ. TWA offered daily flights to St. Louis, but left the airport in 2000 and was bought the following year by American Airlines.

"There's got to be some of that crowd still around," said Fred Piccolo, president and CEO of SRQ.

If American does expand service to other destinations, it will likely hinge on where passengers are going once they connect in St. Louis, Piccolo said.

The airport plans to have a small celebration in honor of American Airlines' first flight, handing out orange juice and balloons. The first flight from St. louis is scheduled to arrive at SRQ at 4:32 p.m., and will depart the airport for St. Louis at 4:57 p.m.

Bradenton Herald


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