Carrier Drops Prices, Flights at Monterey Airport

Flights to Las Vegas out of Monterey just became a little less expensive.

US Airways announced Wednesday it would drop fares on its Monterey-Las Vegas flights, in response to a request by airport officials, said Monterey Peninsula Airport spokeswoman Jennifer Donat.

The airline, formerly operated as America West, will reduce daily flights between Monterey and Las Vegas McCarran International Airport beginning Nov. 15 to a thrice-weekly schedule. The company announced the schedule reduction in September, just three months after launching daily flight service between the two cities.

Monterey Peninsula Airport General Manager Thomas E. Greer said the airline was disappointed with lower-than-anticipated ridership, but that the later departure time that will also begin Nov. 10 -- 8:20 p.m. rather than 1:40 p.m. -- should provide more convenient service to both weekend gamblers and business commuters who now have a red-eye connection to East Coast cities.

While airports have little control over the schedules or fares of its carriers, Greer said he'd expressed concern to the company about how a recent fare hike would negatively affect efforts to build ridership on a route still struggling to find it.

"We negotiate with a velvet hammer," he said, as the airport doesn't want to discourage any growth in service, but high fares make it hard to lure most travelers away from less-expensive options at surrounding airports such as San Jose or San Francisco.

The reduced fares were scheduled to become effective Wednesday night.

Round-trip fares dropped to $198 round-trip, or $99 one-way with advance purchase on Tuesday, Wednesday or Saturday, which are considered off-peak days. The remainder of the week, round-trip fares are $258, or $129 one-way, with advance purchase. The merger between America West and US Airways became final on Sept. 27.

Monterey County Herald

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