LANSING, Mich. — Delta Airlines is going to have a fight on its hands if it wants to stop flying to-and-from the Capital Region International Airport. Members of Michigan's congressional delegation have written a letter, trying to urge the U.S. Department of Transportation to block the airline's request.
Under the CARES Act, Delta received $5.4 billion in federal assistance to keep essential travel afloat during the coronavirus pandemic.
"The airline industry is hurting in a big way, so on that hand, I understand where they are coming from," Spencer Flynn, of the Capital Region International Airport, said. " On the flip side, Delta alone got $5.4 billion from the federal government."
Flynn acknowledges the planes leaving the Lansing area airport have been far from full. It's been as quiet as you might think.
"We're seeing flights with five, six, or seven people coming in and coming out. We have had a few flights with one or two."
But still, Sen. Gary Peters, Sen. Debbie Stabenow, Rep. Elissa Slotkin, Rep. Dan Kildee, and Rep Fred Upton, are backing up the airport, saying that allowing the airline to temporarily suspend service out of Lansing would undermine the intent of the financial assistance the airline received in the CARES Act.
Flynn says they are starting to see an increase in passengers at the airport in recent days. But, Delta has already stopped service to-and-from Washington D.C. and Minneapolis and reduced flights to-and-from Detroit.
"They've relaxed their flight schedule quite a bit already, so it's not like we're not playing ball with them or anything like that," Flynn said.
Flynn says he doesn't believe Delta will try to leave the airport long-term. He says there is too much demand for those flights to Detroit and Minneapolis.
"I don't think its reasonable to expect that they wouldn't come back," he says. "If we were to lose service to something like that, it wouldn't be nearly as hard to fill that need because we can show that need was there."
Recently, the Federal Aviation Administration denied United Airlines' request to temporarily suspend service in and out of Kalamazoo Battle Creek International Airport.
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