Fort Dodge Airport officials are entering talks with several carriers now that Delta Airlines plans to end its flights to the central Iowa community. Delta announced last month it also plans to halt flights to Mason City and two-dozen other small markets nationwide.

Rhonda Chambers, director of the Fort Dodge Airport, says the U.S. Department of Transportation is buying the cities a little time. Chambers says the D.O.T. will allow other airlines more time to develop proposals on serving the cities, though no date has been set.

The original deadline was August 9th. Delta has requested financial assistance to continue service to Sioux City and Waterloo, creating fears about losing the service in those communities as well.

Chambers says Delta flights into and out of Mason City and Fort Dodge are still being scheduled. “Their service is going to continue,” Chambers says. “If you have tickets booked, there’s not going to be any issues. If you book a ticket, they’re still going to be there at least through the end of October. Obviously, it could be longer than that.”

The Atlanta-based airline is trying to cut costs by ending routes in unprofitable cities. Delta says flights in the targeted markets on average depart with 52% of the seats filled, with some as low as 12%. Delta flights in Mason City have a 46% load factor, with Fort Dodge flights having a 39% load factor.

By Pat Powers, KQWC, Webster City