Delta drops service to two Iowa airports - Waterloo survives cut - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Delta drops service to two Iowa airports - Waterloo survives cuts

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WATERLOO (KWWL) -

Delta is announcing it can no longer afford to operate in many smaller communities. The company is terminating its service to two Iowa airports, and making changes at two others. Delta reports it's losing $14 million each year by flying to 24 underperforming regional airports.

This includes four Iowa airports -- Mason City, Fort Dodge, Sioux City, and Waterloo. Waterloo is one of the two airports which will continue to operate Delta flights, which is good news for the folks who depend on Delta for a quick flight in and out of the Cedar Valley.

"It's a convenient option most of the time!" said business traveler Tim Bakula.

Airport Director Brad Hagen reports, that convenience was on shaky ground when Delta announced plans to retire its smaller, turboprop planes.

"Smaller markets, by nature, are going to take more of a hit than some of the larger markets," he explained.

But Friday morning, Hagen received word that Waterloo would not only continue working with Delta -- Delta is actually upgrading its service by maintaining the number of daily flights, but operating a jet instead of a turboprop plane.

"There are many markets, I believe there's about 10, that found out this morning they're losing all of their service from Delta. And another, about five, that are having downgraded service. So being one of the few that has an upgrade in service, we're very happy about that," said Hagen.

Waterloo flights operate at about 61% capacity, which is among the highest of the "underperforming markets" listed by Delta. Delta reports some flights in other communities take off without a single passenger on board. But 61% is still quite a bit lower than the company average of 83%, which is why Cedar Valley leaders meet often with Delta executives to let them know how much this community values its airport.

"You're never 100% sure," Hagen admitted. "But you're always very hopeful and that's why it's important to continue to work with them and be proactive and find ways to partner and make sure we're a good market for them."

Travelers are also hopeful that the investment continues.

"It's a good option I think, and hopefully they retain that option for some time," said Bakula.

Mason City and Fort Dodge Airport Directors are the two Iowa communities with which Delta is terminating its service. They will have to find another carrier, and are already in talks with Great Lakes Airlines.

Delta is planning to ask for an increase in federal subsidies at nine airports to help make up for operating losses. Waterloo Regional Airport does not currently depend on federal subsidy assistance.

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