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Airline woes pinch Arizona, Phoenix tourism

[Source: Dawn Gilbertson, Arizona Republic] — Airline flight cuts and higher airfares this fall will bring fewer visitors to Arizona, delivering a punishing one-two punch to the state’s limping economy.  In Phoenix, more than 1 of 10 flights are gone from a year ago.  Nearly 70 daily departures have disappeared from Sky Harbor International Airport’s schedule, the equivalent of losing service from almost every major airline except US Airways and Southwest.

Fewer seats for sale means airlines can charge more.  Tickets for Phoenix flights departing in October are up an average 28 percent from a year ago, according to Farecast.live.com.  Flights to Boston and Chicago are each up 50 percent.  In a tourism hotbed where the majority of visitors arrive by plane, fewer flights and higher fares mean fewer customers for hotels, restaurants, spas, and golf courses.  At risk: A substantial slice of $19 billion in annual visitor spending in Arizona.  This comes after months of reduced numbers in hotel occupancy and airport traffic as people struggle with a plunging stock market, the housing meltdown and other economic woes.  “We know we’re in for a period of some rough times,” said Steve Moore, chief executive officer of the Greater Phoenix Convention and Visitors Bureau.  [Note: To read the full article, click here.]