Southwest canceling Reno flights to Seattle, Portland

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Southwest canceling Reno flights to Seattle, Portland

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Reno-Tahoe International Airport

Southwest is canceling its nonstop service to both Seattle and Portland from Reno. The change begins next summer.

Both flights are under-performing financially, but airport spokeswoman Heidi Jared says the cancellation is ultimately the result of the merger between American Airlines and US Airways.

"As a condition of approving the merger, the Department of Justice forced American and US Airways to give up gates at seven busy hub airports in the nation. So, now what we're seeing is other airlines, including Southwest, jumping on that chance now to take over those gates."

Alaska Airlines will still offer its nonstop daily service to Seattle and Portland, but now the options for getting to those destinations are more limited and there's no competition between two carriers.

Other cities are being impacted as well, including Jackson, Mississippi, Branson, Missouri, and Key West, Florida. They are losing all of their Southwest services in June.

For Reno, Jared says air service in general has been on the decline and the airport needs more support from business and government entities. That support could potentially include funding.

"It used to be you could just offer a marketing incentive, maybe free advertising in the region for a year or something for a flight, but it requires much more than that now. And you're seeing communities throwing in hard dollars to either bring in a new airline or additional air service."

Jared says additional marketing of the Reno-Tahoe area would also help.

"How many of us who live here locally hear time and again from visitors, 'Oh, what a beautiful place. I had no idea.' Well, we need to sell ourselves a little better, a little more. And, so, in marketing the region more we can help build more air service."

Since 2005, the number of daily departing seats from the Reno-Tahoe International Airport has fallen by nearly 37 percent.