Passengers who fly on American Airlines out of Colorado Springs will likely get a nicer ride this year as the company shifts its five daily flights to Dallas to newer Airbus A319 aircraft and regional jets operated by its Envoy Air unit.
Three of American's flights will shift from 140-passenger MD-80 aircraft to 128-passenger Airbus A319 jets on Oct. 2 as part of the airline's plan to replace its older aircraft with more fuel-efficient planes, said Jenna Arnold, a spokeswoman at American's Fort Worth, Texas, headquarters.
The carrier, which merged with US Airways in December, announced plans in 2009 to retire its fleet of 270 MD-80 aircraft - which have an average age of 22 years - by 2017.
For the airline, it means cost savings. American has 260 Airbus aircraft on order that use 35 percent less fuel per passenger than the MD-80 through the use of weight-reducing composites and more efficient wing design. The Airbus jets also will reduce maintenance costs.
For passengers, it means a flight with more in-cabin amenities, including 8.9-inch seat-back video monitors in coach and 12.1-inch ones in first-class, Wi-Fi, and USB ports and power outlets for every seat.
American's two remaining Colorado Springs flights will shift Nov. 6 to 76-seat regional jets to "better match supply and demand to where and when our customers want to fly," Arnold said. The two flights will be part of American's Envoy Air unit, which changed its name in January from American Eagle, and their departure times will change from 7:55 a.m. and 1:45 p.m. to 12:15 p.m. and 3 p.m. They'll also get new flight numbers, switching from flights 1606 and 1022 to flights 2886 and 3153 when Envoy begins operating them.
Dan Gallagher, director of the Colorado Springs Airport, said shifting the two flights to regional jets allows American to better match space to demand. The two flights often left the Springs only about half-full, he said.
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