Delta offers little explanation for dumping Dubuque - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Delta offers little explanation for dumping Dubuque


DUBUQUE (KWWL) -- After just a year in town, Delta is pulling out of the Dubuque Regional Airport, effective August 31st. Northwest returned in June last year, after leaving Dubuque for five years, merging with Delta in October. Delta flies Dubuque passangers to and from Minneapolis.

Executives of the world's largest airline say passenger revenues have fallen 20% in the first four months of this year, compared with last.

Dubuque Regional Airport officials say they haven't been given a clear reason from the company for Delta dumping out, but released a recent memo to delta employees sited the economic recession, high fuel costs, and the H1N1 outbreak for a decline in revenue.

Delta executives have also said the H1N1 virus alone cost the airline $125 to 150 million in the second quarter (though official numbers are not in).

Locally, management says sales have been good, and the confirming the pull-out was a surprise Monday afternoon.

"Actually, our load factors are pretty good right now. The past month and a half, we've been doing very, very well. I think quite honestly, you have to look at what's been happening in the aviation industry for the past year or so," Airport Manager Robert Grierson said.

Grierson said he's had "mixed messages" about any possible reversal of the decision, but top executives with Delta have indicated it will definitely leave Dubuque. Grierson also said approaching the airline again in the future is a possibility.

"I think it's a reflection on the national economy, not necessarily the Dubuque economy, because we're doing fairly well. I can tell you even by our passanger numbers, we're doing well in comparison to other airports, but systemwide, Delta wasn't making money, and had to make cuts," Grierson said.

American Eagle will continue to be the airport's primary carrier with flights to Chicago.

Grierson says he has no clear indication of how Delta will handle flights already booked for travel after August 31st, but in some cases would involve rerouting, using other carriers, or refund.

Delta has also cut flights at the Eastern Iowa Airport in Cedar Rapids. Flights will no longer go to and from Cincinnati or Atlanta, but Delta has added a flight to Detroit.

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