Delta Seeks to End Service to Five Northern Michigan Airports

Detroit Free Press, July 16, 2011
By Ellen Creager

July 16--Delta Air Lines wants to drop service to five Michigan airports -- or get more cash to keep operating the service.

It notified the federal government Friday it would drop service to 24 cities, including Sault Ste. Marie, Iron Mountain, Pellston, Escanaba and Alpena.

However, airport officials in Escanaba and the Soo said they expect the government will increase Delta's subsidy to keep serving their markets. Officials at the other cities could not be reached for comment.

The cities are covered by the federal Essential Air Service program, which subsidizes airlines to serve markets that otherwise would have no commercial air service.

Delta lost $14 million last year on the 24 small routes. By notifying federal officials, a replacement carrier can be found in the next 90 days or the government can renegotiate with Delta, said Kathy Noel, manager of the Soo's Chippewa County International Airport in Kinchloe.

Connie Ness, manager of Delta County Airport in Escanaba, talked with Delta officials Friday, and "they are keeping two jets for us. They are going to renegotiate the EAS contract," she said.

Delta has three flights daily from Detroit to Pellston, two from Detroit to the Soo, Escanaba and Alpena and one to Iron Mountain.

It is not Delta's intent to abandon those markets, said Kristin Baur, Delta spokeswoman. But using the new 50-seat CRJ jets on the routes will cost more than using the 30-seat Saab aircraft fleet, which is being retired.

Contact Ellen Creager: 313-222-6498 or [email protected]