Sawyer International Airport flight changes hurt businesses, travelers

Published: Oct. 4, 2022 at 4:57 PM EDT
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K.I. SAWYER, Mich. (WLUC) - At Sawyer International Airport there’s now only one Delta Airlines flight per day.

Operated by Endeavor Air, Delta eliminated one of its two flights, to and from Detroit, at the start of the month.

“Due to crew shortages, they’re not able to accommodate that second flight,” Sawyer International Airport Assistant Manager Megan Murray said.

RELATED: Flight routes change at the Delta County Airport

Wednesday, the arrival and departure times of the one remaining flight will be changed. Instead of leaving Sawyer in the early morning and returning late at night, the flight will land at Sawyer at noon and depart at 1 p.m.

Holiday Travel Vacations Owner Laura Chapman said she spends hours fixing clients’ changed schedules.

“For business clients, it’s especially bad because they need to leave here in the morning and fly back in the evening, and it’s just not really possible. Plus, prices have gone up so high,” Chapman said.

Chapman added that many people are using larger airports.

“So many people are going to Green Bay or Appleton just because the prices are better and it doesn’t take all day to get somewhere, the connections are so much better,” Chapman said.

In January, Delta dropped its flight from Sawyer to Minneapolis. American Airlines continues to have a daily flight to Chicago. In the month of November, that departure time will temporarily switch from the early morning to 5:45 in the evening.

All of these changes are creating major obstacles for business growth.

“We typically hear the concern that it’s normally a three-day trip for business class travelers and that’s just not acceptable,” InvestUP CEO Marty Fittante said.

The schedule reductions also come as Sawyer plans a $20 million expansion and rebranding renovation project to start by the end of this year. Airport administrators ask travelers to understand the reductions are out of their hands.

“I would say please be patient and work with us, these flights will return and we’re confident in that. Hopefully, they can work with us through this difficult time for the entire airline industry,” Murray said.

Murray continues to say that the airport is working to get flights restored in the next year.

“Hopefully in the next 9-12 months,” Murray said.

Unlike other U.P. airports, Sawyer International does not receive essential air service money. That is a federal program that guarantees small communities air service.