American Airlines will cease operations out of Long Beach Airport at the end of February, the company confirmed Thursday, making it the second airline to exit the airfield in as many years.

“American Airlines has made the difficult decision to discontinue service to Long Beach Airport (LGB) as the route is not meeting performance expectations,” the company said in an emailed statement to the Business Journal.

Like airports across the country, Long Beach has struggled to return to pre-pandemic passenger volumes. Compared to U.S. Transportation Security Administration data, however, Long Beach has come closer to those levels than the nation as a whole.

The last flights will depart from Long Beach on Feb. 28, and the carrier is “proactively” contacting customers with flights scheduled after that date to “offer alternative travel arrangements.”

People looking up flights online will still see available flights out of Long Beach beyond February until new flight plans are submitted Saturday, a spokesperson told the Business Journal.

The airline has about 50 employees in Long Beach, who are all eligible for transfer to other operations, the spokesperson said.

The company also announced it is discontinuing service at Columbus, Georgia (CSG) and Del Rio, Texas (DRT). American cited the “regional pilot shortage affecting the airline industry and soft demand” as the reason for discontinuing the routes.

The Georgia and Texas services end April 3, according to a company spokesperson.

Service out of these airports were operated by Mesa Air Group on behalf of American, a spokesperson confirmed. The two companies announced in December that their partnership would end in March. The American spokesperson, however, said the ending partnership is not the cause for pulling out of the three airfields, noting that the company is continuing other routes currently operated by Mesa.

Between LAX, Burbank, Ontario and John Wayne, American operates more than 145 daily flights to 52 destinations around the world from LA and Orange counties. These operations will not be affected.

The airline currently operates three of Long Beach’s 53 daily slots, offering two or three nonstop flights to Phoenix daily. Southwest Airlines, the airport’s largest carrier, also flies daily to Phoenix.

In February of last year, American was awarded a fourth flight slot that was relinquished by Delta Air Lines. The airline, however, returned the slot a few months ago, according to airport officials.

Last month, officials announced the airport would increase its number of daily flight slots to 58 after an audit of its annual noise budget. American was third in line on the waitlist for additional flight slots, behind two new carriers that have previously given up or passed on slots.

“We appreciate the great relationship we’ve enjoyed with American Airlines and understand their tough business decisions during these challenging times,” said Airport Director Cynthia Guidry. “We look forward to welcoming them back to Long Beach in the future.”

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to remove inaccurate information about American Airlines’ history at Long Beach Airport.

Long Beach Airport to add 5 daily flights following annual noise budget review

Brandon Richardson is a reporter and photojournalist for the Long Beach Post and Long Beach Business Journal.