Flight cutback coming to FD airport | News, Sports, Jobs

-Messenger photo by Britt Kudla

Fort Dodge residents Kole Petersen, left, and Molly Nelson make their way to the gate with their twin daughters Elya and Etta Petersen, 5, recently at the Fort Dodge Regional Airport.

The number of commercial flights between Fort Dodge and Chicago will be reduced by two round trips a week beginning next month.

United Express, operated by SkyWest Airlines Inc., is trimming its Fort Dodge service from 12 round trips a week to 10.

One flight between Fort Dodge Regional Airport and Chicago O’Hare International Airport will be dropped on Sundays and Mondays, according to Rhonda Chambers, the director of aviation at the local airport.

On Sundays and Mondays, there will still be one United Express round trip flight between Fort Dodge and Denver International Airport in Colorado.

Fort Dodge is one of 18 cities in which SkyWest Airlines is reducing service. In a filing with the US Department of Transportation, airline officials blamed the COVID-19 pandemic for the cutbacks.

“Although SkyWest Airlines Inc. would prefer to continue providing scheduled air service to these communities at 12 flights per week, the staffing imbalance caused by the COVID-19 pandemic hampers SkyWest’s ability to meet this schedule,” airline officials wrote to the Department of Transportation.

Airline officials wrote that reducing the schedule would be a better alternative to having a lot of flight cancellations and delays.

Chambers said she doesn’t know how long the reduced flight schedule will be in place.

“Obviously, they’re doing everything they can to put it back,” she said.

“We’re very grateful to still have the service even with the reduction,” she added.

United Express is the only airline serving Fort Dodge. It began its local presence in March 2021 with flights to Chicago. The flights to Denver were added in October 2021.

The airline uses 50-passenger Bombardier CJR-200 jets for all flights.

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