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November 15, 2021

American Airlines grounds Maine-New York flights for good

File photo Portland International Jetport will lose American Airlines' direct service to and from LaGuardia Airport in New York City.

Maine’s two largest airports will see fewer touchdowns and takeoffs by the country’s largest airline, beginning Jan. 4, 2022.

American Airlines will discontinue flights between New York’s LaGuardia Airport and both Portland and Bangor, a spokesman told Mainebiz on Monday morning.

The cuts are reported to be among 27 planned in the U.S. and Canada. Most of the affected flights serve New York City, and they include the long-standing shuttle service between Boston and LaGuardia.

It’s not entirely clear why American, operated by American Airlines Group Inc. (Nasdaq: AAL), is making the changes.

“Over the weekend, American optimized its flying schedule to better connect customers with the destinations that are most important to them. As part of those adjustments, we’re discontinuing service between our New York-La Guardia (LGA) hub and Bangor (BGR) and Portland (PWM), ME,” spokesman Brian Metham said in an emailed statement.

Metham said the Fort Worth, Texas-based carrier is offering alternate arrangements to customers affected by the changes, and noted that American continues to offer service between Maine and hubs at Charlotte, N.C., Philadelphia and Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport.

At Portland International Jetport, Assistant Airport Director Zachary Sundquist said PWM had been informed of the cuts.

“For Maine travelers it is important to note that PWM-LGA remains served by Delta Air Lines who actually added additional capacity in January and February. This additional capacity keeps PWM at three to four daily flights to LGA,” he said.

Bangor International Airport did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

While American, the largest U.S. airline as measured by passenger volume, is scaling back, another carrier may be picking up the slack.

JetBlue has already announced plans to add direct service between LaGuardia and some of the cities losing American flights. The two airlines entered a codeshare partnership in July 2020, although the Department of Justice has filed an antitrust lawsuit against that arrangement.

On Oct. 29, JetBlue announced it will begin nonstop flights between Portland and LaGuardia in the summer of 2022. Sundquist said PWM was aware of that addition, but doesn’t yet have details.

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