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.