Elected leaders in Hibbing continue to make their case for air service. Delta airline officials confirmed plans over the summer to reduce or eliminate service to 24 small markets in the Midwest. Delta officials indicated they would like to continue service to Hibbing, but need an increase in its government subsidy to do so.
Hibbing mayor Rick Cannata and City Councilor Patty Shafer discussed the matter with the New York Times:
Q. Delta says the flights are not nearly full, and that it is losing money. Why should they keep flying to Hibbing?
Ms. Shafer: “A lot of these big companies don’t care about the people. They just don’t care about the needs of people anymore. They only care about their bottom line. If that isn’t greed, what is it? It’s crazy.”
Mr. Cannata: “We’re a mining community so we have ups and downs. A lot of the younger people are moving away. One of the reasons I ran for office was to bring manufacturing jobs to Hibbing. There is a big market now for copper-nickel. It is used in cellphones and computers. Northern Minnesota is going to have a booming industry, which is one of the reasons we need to keep the flights. If these airlines are doing this just because they are not making enough money … Sometimes if smaller counties aren’t able to meet their needs they could still provide a service. They should be kind of, you know, they should meet the needs of the people. They should be sympathetic to that. It will be devastating for Hibbing. Businesses will probably be lost.”
Part of the rationale for cutting service is that Delta is retiring the Saab turboprops that serve most of these markets. Here’s a view of takeoff from MSP in one of the planes.