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Delta to end Rochester to Atlanta flights

Responding to a national news report that included the Rochester flight in a list of flights being grounded by Delta, Rochester International Airport Director John Reed confirmed that Delta is making a change.

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Delta Airlines plans to end nonstop service between Rochester and Atlanta in January, at least temporarily.

Responding to a national news report that included the Rochester-to-Atlanta direct flight in a list of regular flights being grounded by Delta, Rochester International Airport Director John Reed confirmed that Delta is making a change.

“Yes, the ATL flight goes away early January,” he wrote in an email. “Typical of what Delta has done in the past… it’s a bit early to tell but traditionally the ATL flight comes back to RST in the spring at some point.”

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Reed added that airlines are making a lot of changes very quickly as the spike in omicron variant COVID-19 cases is driving more travel restrictions and rules, particularly internationally. The reduction in Mayo Clinic employees traveling is a big hit to the Rochester passenger traffic, which drives the airlines’ decisions, added Reed.

The Points Guy, a news site focused on airlines, was first to report on Delta’s plans in a story posted earlier today. The story stated that Delta is dropping 10 flights, including Rochester and three from the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. Those flights connect the Twin Cities to Lansing, Mich., Freeland, Mich. and Tulsa, Oklahoma.

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Delta will still have flights between Rochester and the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport.

Rochester’s flight offerings, like all airports, have been changing rapidly throughout the pandemic.

United Airlines ended its relationship with the Rochester International Airport with the big loss being a flight to Denver that had only been operating for a year.

United's departure left the airport served by just Delta and American Airlines. As an addition to the local offerings, Sun Country Airlines is scheduled to start flights from Rochester to Phoenix in February.

This withdrawal by United is a blow to the Destination Medical Center campaign to make Rochester International Airport into a bustling hub bringing in patients for Mayo Clinic.

Mayo Clinic founded Rochester’s first airport in 1928. While the City of Rochester owns the airport, Mayo Clinic is contracted to manage it via its Rochester Airport Co. firm. In 2018, Mayo Clinic reported $3.76 million in income from the airport company.

After Mayo Clinic required its employees to use the local airport for work travel, it tallied a record 371,615 passengers in 2018.

Jeff Kiger tracks business action in Rochester and southeastern Minnesota every day in "Heard on the Street." Send tips to jkiger@postbulletin.com or via Twitter to @whereskiger . You can call him at 507-285-7798.

Jeff Kiger writes a daily column, "Heard Around Rochester," in addition to writing articles about local businesses, Mayo Clinic, IBM, Hormel Foods, Crenlo and others. He has worked in Rochester for the Post Bulletin since 1999. Send tips to jkiger@postbulletin.com or via Twitter to @whereskiger . You can call him at 507-285-7798.
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