Continental Express and American Eagle Vie for Texas Traffic

Each filled about 66 percent of available seats in October, according to the Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport Authority.


Dallas-Fort Worth or Houston?

So far, the battle of two airlines trying to woo area air travelers to those Texas cities appears to be a draw.

Continental Express, which flies to Houston, and American Eagle, with service to Dallas-Fort Worth, each filled about 66 percent of available seats in October, according to the Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport Authority.

Dave Jackson, an American Eagle spokesman, said traffic on its nonstop flights that started from the city to Texas in August is "pretty strong."

If service stays that way, he said, the airline would consider adding a second daily flight between Chattanooga and Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport.

"I can't commit at this point. If service continues to stay strong, it's something we'd consider," Mr. Jackson said.

Karen Zachary, Continental's managing director for scheduling and planning, said the service met expectations since it began Oct. 1, filling 65 percent of its 2,335 seats.

"We expect it to continue to trend nicely and strengthen in yields and traffic," she said.

Continental Express started Oct. 1 with two daily nonstops from here to Houston's George Bush Intercontinental Airport.

Mike Landguth, the city airport's chief, termed the two airlines' traffic figures "a very good start."

Travelers are making Houston and Dallas-Fort Worth their final destinations as well as connecting points to other cities, he said.

While there is overlap among the cities served by Continental and American, there are strengths among the carriers.

American Eagle is the nation's biggest regional airline, and partner American Airlines is the world's largest carrier.

Continental Express, an affiliate of Continental Airlines, is especially strong to Latin America, and its officials are hoping to tap into that growing market locally.

Continental is receiving over $1 million in subsidies from the airport, most of it in the form of a $750,000 federal grant.

Airport spokeswoman Christina Siebold said Continental is advertising its service. In addition to ads in English, the airport is targeting the Dalton, Ga., area's large Hispanic population, she said.

Ms. Zachary said time will tell if the airport can support both airlines' links to Texas.

"The added service can stimulate more traffic. People driving to Atlanta, they'll stay in the community," she said.

E-mail Mike Pare at mpare@timesfreepress.com



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