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24 Small Towns May Lose Air Service

New York Times |  Rural America, already struggling to recover from the recession and the flight of its young people, is about to take another blow: the loss of its airline service.

That was underscored last week when Delta Air Lines announced that it “can no longer afford” to continue service at 24 small airports. The carrier says it is losing a total of $14 million a year on flights from places like Thief River Falls, a city of 8,600 in northwest Minnesota that fills only 12 percent of the seats, or Pierre, the capital of South Dakota, where Delta’s two daily flights are on average less than half full.

Nationally, all major airlines have been reducing and sometimes eliminating flights altogether in small cities, as the industry concentrates much of its service in 29 major hubs, which now account for 70 percent of all passenger traffic, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

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