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Delta Airlines

Posted on 12/5/2008

Mayor Liechty speaks about air service to Delta President Ed Bastian.
BISMARCK - Delta Airlines' president confirmed Thursday it will add daily direct flights from Fargo and Bismarck to Salt Lake City, and reassured mayors and other local officials that the company is committed to serving small cities.

Delta President Ed Bastian said the direct flights to Salt Lake City will begin in June, using Delta's SkyWest partner, and will operate seven days a week.

The U.S. Department of Justice recently approved the merger of Northwest Airlines and Delta. Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., invited Bastian and other Delta officials to the state to hear concerns about possible changes in service.

Janell Cole / N.D. Capitol Bureau Jamestown Mayor Clarice Liechty talks to Delta Airlines President Ed Bastian, left, during a meeting that state and local officials had with Delta officials Thursday in Bismarck. Also at the table are Gov. John Hoeven, next to Bastian, and Delta Airlines' senior vice president of global sales and distribution, Jim Cron.
Delta will eventually swallow up the entire NWA brand, according to Delta's Web site, which promises a "thoughtful integration process over the next 12-24 months."

Dorgan, Gov. John Hoeven and others had worried that airline service to North Dakota could suffer under the proposed merger. Delta is headquartered in Atlanta; Northwest is headquartered in Minneapolis.

Bastian said it is a significant positive signal that the company can add service during a time when the national economy is in a recession.

"The airline is not immune (to the effects of the recession)," he said.

Bastian also assured officials at the gathering that Delta is committed to service in small cities. He said he was pleased that the company can now combine the different "strongholds" Northwest and Delta hold in different regions of the nation and world.

Those at the meeting included mayors and other officials from Fargo, Jamestown, Devils Lake, Minot and Bismarck.

"We're excited about the Northwest-Delta merger," Grand Forks City Council President Hal Gershman told Bastian.

Officials from each city outlined factors that make their markets a good place for Delta to maintain service. Conversely, they're all concerned that poor or diminishing airline service could hurt their local economy if business representatives can't fly in or out conveniently.

"We need you as a partner," said Gov. John Hoeven.

Grand Forks CVB manager Julie Rygg described the thousands of people who have flocked to Grand Forks for major international curling and junior hockey tournaments.

For Fargo, it was Microsoft's expansion and thousands of employees. Jamestown officials noted the presence of Goodrich Manufacturing. Devils Lake area officials explained that it is a national draw for hunters and anglers and training of National Guard soldiers from all over the U.S.

Fargo's Hector International Airport's boardings are up 9 percent so far this year, its executive director, Shawn Dobberstein told Bastian.

Fargo Mayor Dennis Walaker expressed satisfaction with the meeting.

"It was certainly good to hear Delta has never had a strike," he said, adding he'll be satisfied "as long as we can maintain our present service."

He and Dobberstein noted that Delta had direct flights from Fargo to Salt Lake City for about two years before ending the service this past April.

For more information on the merger and its effects on customers, see www.delta.com/ help/faqs/merger/index.jsp

Cole works for Forum

Communications Co., which

owns The Jamestown Sun