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Flights from St. Cloud to Chicago to end sooner than expected

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Residents of St. Cloud will be losing their direct route to Chicago earlier than expected, with flights to the Windy City ending on March 1.

The St. Cloud Times reports that SkyWest Airlines will be ending its twice-daily flights to Chicago O'Hare International Airport in just under two months time, having originally planned to scrap the route in April.

St. Cloud Mayor Dave Kleis told the newspaper that SkyWest had informed the city of the suspension day via a letter.

The airline had announced on Christmas Eve that it would be bringing an end to the route this April, citing a lack of ticket sales as the reason.

The route has been heavily subsidized, with $1.75 million in cash set aside to cover the airline's losses for operating the connection through a combination of federal and local sources, but $803,000 of this was used up in the first three months alone, the Times reported.

Another issue was reliability, with the Business Journal reporting the St. Cloud Airport was the second-worst nationally for late flight arrivals and fifth-worst for late flight departures.

Data from the U.S Department of Transportation found that just 55 percent of flights arrived at the airport on time, while just 60 percent left on time.

St. Cloud officials are expected to continue looking into ways of financing the growth of the airport, with Kleis telling the Times there is a market in the area, but that "it's just a matter of getting it over the hump so it's self sufficient."

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