WDAY.com

WDAZ: Your Home Team

Published December 08, 2011, 08:55 PM

Delta Switches to Bigger Planes at Devils Lake Airport, But Runway's Too Short

DEVILS LAKE (WDAZ-TV) - Commercial air service in Devils Lake came to a near stand-still last week, when Delta started using new planes.

By: David Schwab, WDAZ

DEVILS LAKE (WDAZ-TV) - Commercial air service in Devils Lake came to a near stand-still last week, when Delta started using new planes.

Last week, Delta just retired the Saab turbo prop planes that served smaller communities and started using larger jet planes.

Unfortunately, the Devils Lake runway is too short for those planes much of the time.

Devils Lake Airport manager John Nord says was Delta warned him there could be problems when it started using its new line of regional jets.

"We can only land the aircraft here only 42 percent of the time and with winter conditions it would be less then that," Nord said.

It's been worse than that, so far, Delta has cancelled 13 of the last 16 flights. The reason is the larger jets needs more runway space.

Delta claims that in certain weather conditions, the Devils Lake runway is too short to accommodate landing in both directions.

"Quickest solution, let's find a smaller aircraft like the Saab 340 that was being flown in here that Delta has just retired and turned back or whatever they did with them," Nord said.

Over the past week, Delta has been been busing passengers to Grand Forks or Jamestown when flights are cancelled.

North Dakota leaders say that the fix is unacceptable, and are complaining to the U.S. Department of Transportation.

"They have to provide this service. They are under an Essential Air Service contract to Devils Lake. My question is, what is the penalty to Delta," Nord said.

Because of strong northwest winds both of the Delta flights at the Devils Lake Airport where cancelled again on Thursday.

Tags: