Regional carrier American Eagle Airlines will suspend service at Dallas Love Field until a $519 million construction project is complete in 2013.
Six daily roundtrips to Chicago O'Hare International airport will end from 11 June due to both the global economic slowdown, and plans to replace the airport's three concourses with a singular, T-shaped concourse.
Construction makes operations difficult, an American Eagle spokeswoman says.
The cuts will affect roughly 50 employees, but American Eagle will maintain a small staff at the facility for ground handling for another carrier, she says.
However, American Eagle will return to Love Field at some point after parent American Airlines inked a 17-year lease at the airport, extending its commitmentto 2028.
But the airline has not decided when or where it will resume service at Love Field, where it has no mainline operations. A lot will depend on the economy, the spokeswoman says.
Spurred by primary tenant Southwest, Love Field construction is likely to start next year.
The new concourse is slated to open before the full lifting of the Wright Amendment in October 2014 as enplanements are expected to nearly double to 7.9 million within roughly a decade of the full repeal.
Introduced in the 1970s to protect the then newly-built Dallas/Forth Worth International airport from competition, the amendment now limits Love Field nonstop flights to within Texas and to Alabama, Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, New Mexico and Oklahoma.
Love Field had roughly 4.28 million enplanements in calendar 2008, but that figure is expected to reach 5.9 million within the first year of the repeal, with a gradual increase to 7.9 million in 2025, says Terry Mitchell, assistant director of aviation for airport owner the city of Dallas.
In the meantime, flights between the greater Dallas and Chicago areas will decline, but the market will not go unserved.
While American Eagle is the only carrier to offer Love Field service to O'Hare, Southwest links Love Field with Chicago Midway International airport.
Schedules in Innovata also show that American Airlines, Shuttle America and United Airlines connect Dallas/Fort Worth with O'Hare.