AirTran cuts flights to VT, nobody cares

When AirTran‘s first flight touched down in Burlington almost a year ago, the airline’s director for strategic planning and scheduling, John Kirby, said, “This is going to be a home run.” I guess that didn’t work out.

It didn’t even last a year. AirTran’s nonstop service between Burlington, VT and the Washington, D.C. area is now but a memory “seasonal.” The route will now be serviced for around four months a year. The airline cites the economy as the reason it halted flights in early September. Flights to and from Baltimore are expected to resume in April or May 2010. Last year, 5.5 percent of passengers flying out of Burlington did so on AirTran.

Well, I guess it really isn’t “seasonal” after all. AirTran’s decision to run flights from May to August – with the possibility of April and September – seems to overlook the fact that ski season is the state’s big draw.

All hope is not lost, though. Burlington International’s airport director, Brian Searles, says the airport is in discussions with AirTran in the hopes of returning year-round service to the city. Vermont politicians, including Governor Jim Douglas and Senator Patrick Leahy have been getting in on the action as well. With AirTran’s $273.8 million loss last year, it seems these guys are wasting their breath.