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Airport traffic climbs in Duluth as Delta plans to add bigger jets

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During the first three months of 2013, the number of travelers at the Duluth International Airport increased 5 percent over the same period last year, the Northland NewsCenter reports.

WDIO says a total of 77,711 passengers went through the airport in January, February and March.

The jump in traffic follows the January opening of the new $78 million terminal at the airport.

According to the News Tribune, Delta Air Lines, the world's second-biggest airline and dominant Twin Cities carrier, plans to upgrade its daily 5:30 a.m. flight from Duluth to MSP airport with a larger aircraft starting in June.

“A lot of the airlines in the industry are upgrading their flights from regional jets and integrating newer aircraft into their fleets,” Tom Werner, executive director of the Duluth Airport Authority, told the newspaper. “What’s really cool about them is they’re getting away from compact 50-seaters. They’re bringing back first-class cabin seating.”

Meanwhile, Delta announced Tuesday its net income tumbled 94 percent to $7 million following one-times charges for facilities, fleet and other items in the quarter that ended March 31, Bloomberg reports.

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Is Delta Air Lines downgrading jets at Minneapolis-St. Paul airport?

The Star Tribune reports the Atlanta-based airline appears to be swapping newer Airbus planes with older Boeing or McDonnell Douglas jets at MSP. Delta told the newspaper, "We always work to deploy the most efficient aircraft to each route, which is critical to the success of our hub at MSP." Some travelers and airport officials have complained the older planes are noisier and more cramped.