American Eagle struggles in Lake Charles

By Adam Hooper - bio | email

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC)- "The service started out real strong last summer, but it has been a real tough fall and winter for those guys," said Lake Charles Regional Airport Director, Heath Allen.

Business for American Eagle has not met expectations, that is despite marketing support from the airport.

"We did offer American an incentive package for marketing. We have done 50-thousand of that package in 2009, and now we are trying to do the other 50-thousand for 2010," said Allen.

Now, they are calling on the city of Lake Charles for help with that money. Mayor Randy Roach said he wants to help, but said the city council will not just write a check for 50-thousand dollars.

"We will develop a formula, and that we don't do it as a one-time thing. We won't do it for a single airline. We want to do it in the form of a comprehensive plan, a regional marketing plan that would help promote the aviation business in Lake Charles," said Lake Charles Mayor, Randy Roach.

Mayor Roach said the tax base that supports the Lake Charles regional airport is fairly small, compared to the area it serves. The Mayor believes keeping both, Continental and American Eagle airlines in Lake Charles is good for economic growth, but he also realizes some could have a problem with public dollars going to private gain.

"The obligation that we have is to truly make sure that whatever we do is truly for the benefit of the public interest. And, I do think, though, that there is a public interest in having a competitive airline situation here in our community," said Mayor Roach.

American Eagle provided a written statement for 7 News.

"Would we like to see more customers on our planes? absolutely, it's community support that makes our service work. We work very closely with the airport and community leaders to get our business started. And, even though we've have been operating in Lake Charles for several months, we still work with the airport and community leaders on making the service successful."

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