North Dakota Leaders Call on Federal Transportation Chief to Address Air Service Interruptions to Devils Lake and Jamestown

Washington – Senators Kent Conrad and John Hoeven, Governor Jack Dalrymple and Congressman Rick Berg today called on Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood to put pressure on Delta Airlines to meet their contractual obligations by resuming timely and efficient air service into and out of Devils Lake and Jamestown. The North Dakota leaders asked that penalties and fines be levied should Delta fail to continue its service. 

“Devils Lake and Jamestown have spent considerable time, money, and effort to build their passenger boardings, along with making critical investments in their terminals and other infrastructure to enhance air service in the region.  However, this is all in jeopardy if passengers do not have confidence that the airline serving the communities will be able to provide reliable service,” the North Dakota leaders wrote in a joint letter to Secretary LaHood.  “Pinnacle/Delta are not meeting their statutory obligation.  It is imperative that DOT take swift action, through penalties, directing Pinnacle/Delta to extend the Saab contract, or other means, to correct this situation immediately.” 

Last week, Delta started using regional jets to serve the region due to its retirement of the Saab prop plane, which previously served the communities.  The Governor and Congressional Delegation noted that between Thursday and Monday, only one out of 11 scheduled flights operated in Devils Lake.  Delta claims that in certain weather conditions it cannot land the jet because the runway is too short.  In Jamestown, several flights have been canceled because Delta has failed to provide the appropriate deicing equipment for the jet.  Until the appropriate equipment is provided, Jamestown faces the possibility of additional canceled flights.  

The U.S. Department of Transportation has pressed Delta to find a fix, but the airline has yet to take appropriate action. It has instead relied on busing or cabbing passengers to Grand Forks when flights are cancelled, a practice the North Dakota leaders have called unacceptable.  

Delta officials informed the airport that it expects to complete only 42 percent of scheduled flights into Devils Lake - and perhaps even fewer this winter.