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Fri, Mar 07, 2008

ATA To Pull Out Of Chicago's Midway Airport

Scales Back Scheduled Service, Focusing On Charter Ops

The increasingly-high costs of doing business have resulted in ATA Airlines pulling its service from Chicago's Midway Airport, and reevaulating its business model.

Citing high fuel prices, ATA officials announced Thursday the airline, which opened a hub at Midway in 1992, will cut its domestic flights from the downtown Chicago airport April 14. The carrier's international flights to Mexico from the airport will halt June 7, according to The Associated Press.

"This was a difficult decision, but the high cost of fuel has made it economically unfeasible to continue our low-fare service at Midway," said Rob Binns, ATA's chief commercial and planning officer. "We will redeploy our ATA aircraft in profitable charter service."

ATA currently flies to Dallas/Fort Worth, TX and Oakland, CA from Midway. In the past few months, the airline dropped a combined 10 daily flights from Midway to New York and Washington, DC.

The airline plans to continue scheduled flights to Hawaii from Oakland, Los Angeles, Phoenix, and Las Vegas, according to ATA spokesman Steve Forsyth, though those routes could also be shut down, if fuel prices don't drop soon.

The airline has operated a codeshare agreement with Southwest Airlines since 2005. ATA will continue that partnership for now, Forsyth said, offering Southwest customers service to Hawaii.

The airline seems pessimistic about its future as a scheduled carrier, however. From now on, ATA will be primarily a charter airline -- just as it was when it started out 35 years ago.



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