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Airport celebrates new service

The Rogue Valley gained another link to Los Angeles International and service to Phoenix Sky Harbor for the first time in nine years Friday.

A 70-passenger American Eagle Canadian Regional Jet appeared over the Siskiyous on a sparkling late-spring morning, then touched down at the Medford airport while Jackson County officials and other community leaders looked on. Airport fire trucks shot a water salute overhead as the American Airlines regional affiliate rolled to its gate. An hour later, the plane bolted down the runway on its way to Arizona before making a late afternoon return trip.

There was nothing remarkable about another jet landing or airline hanging up its banner at Medford's airport. But options for local travelers are at an all-time high.

"Before deregulation, when airlines ran kind of a milk run, sometimes you would get multiple locations announced at one time," Airport Director Bern Case said. "But that's pre-1978. Since 1978, I don't believe we've had an airline open up new service and go to more than one city. We're thrilled American is making that much of a commitment right out of the chute."

American Eagle joins Alaska's twice daily non-stop service and Allegiant's twice-weekly runs to Los Angeles. US Airways flew to Sky Harbor but pulled out of Medford in 2008 after it acquired American West Airlines.

In this era of hub-and-spoke scheduling, American Eagle's daily up, over and back route flies in the face of convention. But it certainly worked for Leah Simmons, who checked in at American's new ticket counter a few minutes before Flight 2992 arrived from Los Angeles and about an hour before departure for Phoenix.

She heard about the new service via email and quickly adjusted her routing.

"I was really excited they were having a straight flight," said Simmons, who was able to cut out a layover in Salt Lake City. "My frequency just increased, I'll be here about every three to four weeks."

American Airlines showed one-way fares to Phoenix as low as $105 during the summer.

— Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 541-776-4463 or business@mailtribune.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/GregMTBusiness, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/greg.stiles.31.

An American Eagle jet is christened Friday by water sprays during its first landing at the Rogue Valley International-Medford Airport. [Mail Tribune / Denise Baratta]