Will Rochester’s airline loss be Duluth’s gain?


It was a blow when the 2009 airline passenger totals came out and Duluth International Airport had been topped by Rochester.

Duluth, ranked No. 2 in the state for years, was edged out by Rochester by about 2,900 passengers. (Duluth had a total of 257,561 passengers, compared to Rochester’s 260,430).

But Duluth’s chances of reclaiming the No. 2 spot just got better.

Allegiant Air, which had flown twice-a-week flights between Rochester and Las Vegas for two-and-a-half years, is pulling out of Rochester today. Citing insufficient market demand, it flew its last flight out of Rochester on Monday.

Allegiant’s numbers in Rochester, however, had increased from 27,854 in 2008 to 28,632 in 2009.

But Allegiant’s numbers in Duulth had increased much more, from 29,000 in 2008 (with direct Las Vegas flights) to 35,000 in 2009. Moreover, in November, Allegiant added direct flights to Orlando. And regular service to Phoenix could be next.

Rochester is left with daily Delta flights to Minneapolis/St. Paul and Detroit and daily American Eagle flights to Chicago.

Duluth also has daily Delta flights to Minneapolis/St. Paul and Detroit and daily flights to Chicago, but through United Airlines.

Both airports have seen dramatic drops in passengers. In 2009, Rochester had 41,000 fewer passengers than in 2008, while Duluth had 45,000 fewer passengers.

4 thoughts on “Will Rochester’s airline loss be Duluth’s gain?

  1. As long as I can keep my plans using the Duluth airport, I will stay loyal to it. What I dislike (and I realize that money and demand for service has a great deal to do with it) is when I get used to planning my schedule around flights out of here and suddenly they’re cut. I travel to both Detroit (actually Windsor, ON) and Chicago on a regular basis – flying out of Duluth saves me so much time. I don’t want to go through discovering that my Chicago direct or Detroit direct flight is suddenly gone.

    With that, the pricing has me floored – why is it cheaper to fly round trip from Duluth – Los Angeles (which requires a layover in MSP) than it is to fly direct from Duluth – Detroit nonstop?

  2. Jon,

    Probably because of the cost structure of the MSP–LAX segment. Because they’re flying a much larger plane, their costs are less.

    When you’re flying DLH-DTW you’re on a small plane that is costed out according to DAL’s forecasts. Because the fees are spread out among less people, the tickets are more.

  3. I know I can’t get the seatbelts buckled anymore. But do they really have to charge me for TWO seats? It’s just not fair.

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