WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — An international flight from T.F. Green Airport once lauded by state and local leaders never took off, and other airlines have made cuts to service this year, Call 12 for Action has learned.
In October 2018, Regional Sky announced a new, direct flight from T.F. Green to Montreal. The flights were supposed to be available Monday through Friday beginning in November 2018.
At the time, Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo said, “With new, nonstop flights to Montreal, even more travelers will get the chance to discover all that T.F. Green has to offer.”
The airline later pushed back its launch to sometime in 2019, but it never ended up getting off the ground.
In a phone interview Wednesday, Regional Sky’s President and CEO Jim Gallagher said the company was expecting 20 to 40 people a day to book flights between Providence and Montreal.
“We weren’t even getting enough to justify one flight,” Gallagher said. “We were very surprised because there seemed to be a strong market and our prices were competitive with Boston.”
Bill Fischer, a spokesperson for the R.I. Airport Corporation, said the airport has almost doubled nonstop flights in recent years, but confirmed ‘insufficient bookings’ hurt the Montreal route.
It’s not the only cut at T.F. Green.
Since the beginning of 2018, 13 new routes have been announced. Four, including the Montreal route, have failed.
In early 2018, Frontier Airlines announced routes to Atlanta, Austin, and Myrtle Beach. The airline operated the routes in 2018, but they were not brought back for the 2019 season, according to Fischer.
“The decision to add or drop routes is made by airlines, not airports, and it is based on demand from the general public,” he said.
In April, overall passenger activity at T.F. Green fell more than 14% and seat capacity declined 18.5%, according to the most recent meeting minutes from the RIAC’s Board of Directors.
RIAC CEO Iftikhar Ahmad told the Board “some of the cuts in seat capacity are due to Southwest and other airline cuts,” according to the meeting minutes.
Indeed, the airline is operating 929 fewer flights in 2019 compared to 2018, according to RIAC data, which they contribute in part to the global grounding of 737 Boeing Max planes.
Southwest spokesperson Dan Landson echoed Fischer’s point that the decision to reduce flights was based on demand.
“These decisions reflect the demands from local travelers and ensuring we’re offering the right amount of service for the community,” Landson said.