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Regional Airports Have Lost a Large Variety of Flights


Even when airports are served by multiple airlines, “if you drill down into the route level there could also be just one selection,” said Mr. Samson, and offered the instance of Flint. Allegiant Airlines, American and United all fly into the airport there, but American and United fly only between Flint and Chicago. Allegiant flies to 10 destinations, and while travelers can find other selections and lower fares at larger airports, “they might need to drive just a few hours,” to accomplish that, he said.

The exits have left a handful of airports, just like the one in Dubuque, entirely or almost entirely without business passenger service. The federal government’s Essential Air Services Program subsidizes airlines to make sure service to about 100 communities, but Dubuque is just not on that list.

Todd Dalsing, Dubuque Regional Airport’s director, said American Airlines had been various the timing of its scheduled flights to Chicago, its single destination from Dubuque, over the past two years. On Sept. 7, the flights stopped completely. “We’re working hard to revive sustainable business service,” said Mr. Dalsing. This month, Avelo Airlines, a recent low-cost start-up, announced it could run two flights every week between Dubuque and Orlando, Fla., starting in January.

Within the meantime, the 100,000 people in Dubuque County have to drive 70 miles to the Cedar Rapids Airport or three hours to Chicago O’Hare International Airport to fly anywhere else.

There may be some activity mitigating the cuts. Avelo and Breeze Airways, one other low-cost start-up, for instance, are expanding. The businesses fly larger, newer jets, in order that they can profitably serve among the cities that regional carriers cannot, said Lukas Johnson, chief business officer of Breeze. The corporate has begun serving about 30 cities since launching in 2021. Avelo also flies to about 30 destinations. Frontier Airlines has added recent routes to its roster this fall, too, some to smaller airports.

Local economies feel the consequences of the reductions. Molly Grover, president of the Dubuque Area Chamber of Commerce, said the lack of air service “is of tremendous concern and an enormous challenge,” since it makes it harder for corporations to satisfy with business partners, to move their staff and to draw investment and employees. “Firms need efficient, convenient, reliable business air service to succeed and grow,” she said. “A Twenty first-century company expects air service.”

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