The Big Story Blog

Small city air service suffers in recession

Posted at 12:17 PM on November 29, 2011 by Paul Tosto
Filed under: Economy

Fees and lines are an aggravation. But it's nothing compared to the frustration of living outside a major metro area and losing air service.

The Associated Press writes:

The little planes that connect America's small cities to the rest of the world are slowly being phased out.

Airlines are getting rid of these planes -- their least-efficient -- in response to the high cost of fuel. Delta, United Continental, and other big airlines are expected to park, scrap or sell hundreds of jets with 50 seats or fewer in coming years. Small propeller planes are meeting the same fate.

The loss of those planes is leaving some little cities with fewer flights or no flights at all.
The Airports Council International says 27 small airports in the continental U.S., including St. Cloud, Minn., and Oxnard, Calif., have lost service from well-known commercial airlines over the last two years. More shutdowns are planned.

Travelers in cities that have lost service now must drive or take buses to larger airports. That adds time and stress to travel. St. Cloud lost air service at the end of 2009 after Delta eliminated flights on 34-seat turboprops. Now, passengers from the city of 66,000 have a 90-minute drive to the Minneapolis airport 65 miles to the southeast.

St. Cloud's been through a particularly tough time with the city spending money to try and lure new air service but with no luck yet.

UPDATE: On the upside, Delta's planning to bring jet service to Chisholm-Hibbing Airport .

About Paul Tosto

Paul Tosto

Paul Tosto writes the Big Story Blog for MPR News. He joined the newsroom in 2008 after more than 20 years reporting on education, politics and the economy for news wires and newspapers across the country.

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