Skip to main content

Small towns feel cut off after airline service ends

  • Author:
  • Updated:
    Original:

Visitors planning a trip to Thief River Falls in northwestern Minnesota will start at a gas station rather than the airport.

The Associated Press has a story about how the termination of daily air service by Great Lakes Airlines is disrupting business in the city of 9,000. Thief River Falls is home to Arctic Cat and Digi-Key Corp., companies that have an international reach. The loss of air service by the regional carrier has been a setback to economic development.

"As a global, $1.5 billion business, travel is essential, especially since we're here in the middle of nowhere," said Digi-Key's corporate communications director Michelle Gjerde.

Great Lakes officials have said they may resume flights as early as June, but with reduced service with flights carrying only nine passengers. The airline blames changes in federal regulations for causing a critical shortage of pilots available to regional airlines.

Thief River Falls is not the only community cut off by Great Lakes. The airline suspended or trimmed service to other small towns, including Jamestown and Devils Lake, North Dakota, Ironwood, Michigan, Pierre and Watertown, South Dakota and Fort Dodge and Mason City, Iowa. The Mason City Globe Gazette, noting that the northern Iowa city has been without commercial service since February when Great Lakes ended service, reported that the airport commission there is awaiting Federal Aviation Administration approval to seek requests from other airlines willing to serve the community.

In Wyoming, the Casper Star-Tribune reported that four of the state’s 10 community airports rely solely on Great Lakes for air service, and the airline has become increasingly unreliable. In March, Great Lakes cancelled 44 percent of all flights at the Sheridan airport and 51 percent at the Worland airport. Cancellations were up to 60 percent at Riverton Regional in March.

Earlier this month, Allegiant Air announced it would end twice-weekly direct service between Rochester and Phoenix on May 14. The Rochester Post Bulletin reported that the Rochester International Airport has $750,000 to try to attract airlines to Rochester.

Meanwhile, the St Cloud Times reported that commercial flights serving the St. Cloud Regional Airport outperformed those across the nation last year in how many airplane seats were filled by paying passengers. The story said that the load rate was 91.9 percent on flights serving St. Cloud, outpacing the national average of 82.8 percent. Allegiant Air flies between the central Minnesota city and Phoenix. United Airlines will start flying twice-daily direct flights between St. Cloud and Chicago O'Hare International Airport starting May 6.

Next Up

Screen Shot 2022-08-12 at 1.58.08 PM

2 ejected, 1 killed in crash that closed southbound I-35

The State Patrol says neither were wearing seat belts.

best buy

Best Buy makes job cuts weeks after warning of soft sales

The Richfield retailer has been dealing with a shift in consumer trends.

Screen Shot 2022-08-12 at 10.26.20 PM

Man makes 'vague comments' about Jewish people, smashes own car with club

It happened at a course that was founded as a Jewish country club 100 years ago.

Screen Shot 2022-08-12 at 9.59.07 PM

4 abandoned puppies found in a bucket in Willmar

The puppies were in good health when they were discovered.

Minneapolis police

Suspect of home invasion, murder in Minneapolis arrested in Wisconsin

There have been 57 deaths reported as homicides in Minneapolis this year.

Carson McCoy

Charges: Man stole handgun from house, fired at motorcyclists from car

A chaotic scene that led to a police chase unfolded after an alleged burglary in Ham Lake.

Mounds view 7 - crime scene

BCA's Uniform Crime Report shows violent crime in MN spiked in 2021

The report details violent crime trends in the seven-county metro and Greater Minnesota.

Screen Shot 2022-08-12 at 4.49.22 PM

Search for vulnerable man, 66, missing from Brooklyn Park

Alex Ramirez was last seen in the early hours of Thursday morning.

St. Cloud Times

St. Cloud Times writing staff hit by Gannett budget cuts

Mass layoffs were expected at Gannett-owned outlets across the country.

PoolScammerLawsuitAG

Pool company sued by AG for allegedly scamming homeowners out of $1M-plus

According to the lawsuit, 17 Minnesota homeowners were affected by this scam.

Related