Delta to increase Grand Forks-Minneapolis flightsDelta Air Lines announced Tuesday that it will expand service between Grand Forks and Minneapolis from five round-trip flights daily to seven, beginning June 10. 2009 AP file photo
By: James R. Johnson, Grand Forks Herald
Delta Air Lines announced Tuesday that it will expand service between Grand Forks and Minneapolis from five round-trip flights daily to seven, beginning June 10.
Officials of the Grand Forks International Airport said the added flights will reduce layover time in the Twin Cities for both business and leisure travelers.
“These flights will allow the traveling public to complete a full day of business and avoid long wait times connecting with other flights,” said Rich Becker, president of the Grand Forks Regional Airport Authority.
“We’ll have a departure scheduled every two hours from 5 a.m. to 7 p.m. and an arrival from Minneapolis every two hours from 9 a.m. to 9:45 p.m.”
Airport officials said Delta’s additional flights will cut connection times in Minneapolis for flights to the East and West Coast from nearly three hours to less than one hour.
Patrick Dame, executive director of the Airport Authority, said six of the seven flights will be 50-seat regional jets. Delta proposes using a DC-9 for a flight that will depart Minneapolis for Grand Forks at 7:10 p.m.
The two additional Delta flights will increase seating capacity out of Grand Forks by 72 seats a day.
Delta recently added two daily flights from Duluth to Minneapolis, increasing the number of round trips from five to seven daily. Two of those flights are on DC-9s that seat 100, instead of regional jets that seat 50 or 76.
The airline also announced new westbound flights from Minot, Bismarck and Fargo to Salt Lake City. Last week, Grand Forks airport officials met with Delta officials at its headquarters in Atlanta, seeking added service.
Airport officials said the added Minneapolis routes will serve passengers as well as westward flights to Salt Lake City.
“We told them we didn’t want to take Grand Forks on a ride of booming and busting air service,” Dame said. “We want these seven flights to stay on the schedule permanently.”
Both Dame and Hal Gershman, airport authority commissioner, said discussions for westward flights will continue with other airlines.
Boardings for January at Grand Forks International Airport increased by 14.9 percent over last year. The airport recorded 8,760 passengers in January, up 1,136 from a year ago.
Dame largely credits the increase to the addition last year of flights to Phoenix-Mesa by Allegiant Air. Last year’s total boardings were 95,633. Dame said the added flights from Delta now could help the airport shatter the 1994 record of 100,569.
“Our goal is 110 (thousand) in 2010,” Dame said.
The percentage increase in January at GFK was the highest of North Dakota’s four major airports.
Fargo’s Hector International Airport saw 2,104 more passengers, up 7.9 percent, in January; Bismarck was up 239 passengers or 1.6 percent, and Minot recorded a decrease of 1,013 passengers, down 18 percent.
The state’s eight commercial airports increased January boardings by 4.3 percent. Larry Taborsky, director of the state Aeronautics Commission, said the total of 59,051 boardings was a 10-year high for January.
Devils Lake Airport saw 261 passengers board in January, up 12 from January 2009.