After just over a year of offering the service, United Airlines on Oct. 23 will discontinue its Lafayette-Denver direct flights, which opened in August to accommodate leisure travelers and Acadiana’s oil and gas personnel working in Colorado.
Lafayette Regional Airport Executive Director Steven Picou said United’s decision is puzzling, given the passenger numbers in Lafayette that could have been strong enough for the airline to add direct flights.
The cancellation of the direct Denver flights will come at the same time United will add passenger seats on the 12 daily flights from Lafayette to Houston. United will add the passenger capacity by using bigger planes on some of the fights, according to a news release by the Lafayette Airport Commission.
Picou said he was disappointed in United’s decision to cancel its Denver route.
“The load factors of passengers from Acadiana have been strong and we could have just as easily seen an announcement of increased flights as one that says the flights are ending in October,” Picou said in a statement released Friday afternoon.
The nonstop service to Denver, which began Aug. 19, 2014, was the culmination of a yearlong effort by the Airport Commission in lobbying United for the service. Families embarking on snow ski trips and other leisure activities flew alongside oil and gas hands and executives working in Colorado’s then-bustling energy sector. Since then, the price of a barrel of oil has been cut in half.
Picou said it was up to United to keep the direct Denver going.
“The dynamics of the airline business and United’s decisions based on their costs of operating the direct Denver flight, versus having those who board in Lafayette go through Houston, are unfortunately out of our control,” he said.
The addition of the Denver flights last year had boosted Lafayette’s direct-access hub to four, joining direct flights to Atlanta, Dallas and Houston.