What Passengers Should Know About TUS-JFK Flights

As many have heard, American Airlines will put its nonstop flights between Tucson and New York’s JFK International Airport on a temporary hiatus this summer from May 5 through December 15, 2017.

The decision was made mutually between American Airlines and the Tucson Metro Chamber and its Air Service Task Force, which organized the efforts by business and community leaders to secure the flight that started October 7, 2016.

“This will give us an opportunity to rethink and retool our marketing efforts and support for the flights going forward,” said Bill Assenmacher, chair of the task force, adding the goal is for the flight to operate year-round through the summer of 2018.

While there has been tremendous positive support for the flights, Assenmacher said American Airlines was concerned that the growth in passengers using the flight has been slower than what was anticipated.

Looking ahead, American officials told Assenmacher passenger demand is stronger during the first four months of 2017.

“This is not what we wanted to see happen but given the circumstances, we felt it was best to make sure the flights return for our winter tourism season next year, which is vital to our region’s economy,” Assenmacher said.  “We could have waited but airlines have to plan their schedules in advance. It’s possible passenger growth could have picked up and remained strong through the summer to assure profitability.  On the other hand, if the summer had continued to underperform we ran the risk of losing the flight entirely before next winter.”

As a result of the decision, the last nonstop flights between Tucson and New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport will be on May 4. The first JFK to Tucson flight will resume on December 15 and the eastbound return is scheduled for the following day.  Those flights are on American’s schedule and can be booked now.

“In talking with American’s route planners, they remain convinced the flight can ultimately be successful and operate year-round, we just need to find the best way to achieve that,” Assenmacher said.

In the meantime, he added it remains vitally important for passengers to support the flight whenever they can through May 4 and then again when it resumes in December.

Visit Tucson has been marketing the flight to target meeting planners.  President and CEO Brent DeRaad said that although they have had successes, many planners will typically book two to three years out. He said the summer time suspension shouldn’t unwind the work that’s been done for next winter and beyond.