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Delta might drop flying in 24 small cities

MINNEAPOLIS — Delta Air Lines Inc. is looking to drop money-losing flights in 24 small cities, putting some of them at risk of losing air service altogether.

Delta says it has been losing $14 million a year on the flights, which are concentrated in the nation's midsection in cities like Thief River Falls, Minn., and Waterloo, Iowa. Some flights are only 12 percent full on average. Many are on Saab turboprop planes, which Delta is retiring.

Federal subsidies help pay for flying in 16 of the cities. Other airlines can bid for those subsidies if Delta pulls out. The airline says it will ask for federal subsidies in the other eight cities. It said it can't afford to keep flying to those cities without a subsidy.

The 24 cities where Delta says it may drop service, by average occupancy from lowest to highest:

City, average flight occupancy, federal subsidy

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Thief River Falls, Minn. 12 percent Yes

Greenville, Miss. 28 percent Yes

Devils Lake, N.D. 30 percent Yes

Watertown, S.D. 35 percent Yes

Muscle Shoals, Miss. 36 percent Yes

Fort Dodge, Iowa 39 percent Yes

Hibbing, Minn. 39 percent Yes

Alpena, Mich. 40 percent Yes

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Tupelo, Miss. 41 percent Yes

Jamestown, N.D. 42 percent Yes

Mason City, Iowa 46 percent Yes

Pierre, S.D. 47 percent No

Iron Mountain, Mich. 49 percent Yes

Sioux City, Iowa 51 percent No.

International Falls, Minn. 53 percent Yes

Brainerd, Minn. 53 percent No

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Hattiesburg, Miss. 54 percent Yes

Escanaba Mich. 55 percent Yes.

Aberdeen, S.D. 56 percent. No

Pellston Mich. 59 percent No

Bemidji, Minn. 59 percent No

Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. 60 percent Yes

Waterloo, Iowa. 61 percent No

Butte, Mont. 65 percent No

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