/ Articles / Airport still serviced by two daily flights to/from Minneapolis

Airport still serviced by two daily flights to/from Minneapolis

April 18, 2020 by Jamie Taylor

While COVID-19 pandemic has cost Central Wisconsin Airport in Mosinee its direct Delta Airlines service to and from Detroit, the Rhinelander-Oneida County Airport is still getting direct service to Minneapolis/St. Paul twice daily.

The difference, according to Rhinelander airport director Matt Leitner, is the two flights into and out of Rhinelander are subsidized as an Essential Air Service (EAS) by the Department of Transportation.

“If our routes weren’t subsidized, we probably would have seen what happened there,” Leitner said.

When the Airline Deregulation Act (ADA) was passed in 1978, it gave air carriers almost total freedom to determine which markets to serve domestically and how much to charge for that service. The EAS was put into place to guarantee that small communities served by air carriers before airline deregulation would maintain a minimal level of scheduled air service.

Due to the ongoing pandemic, what was shaping up to be another banner year for Rhinelander-Oneida County Airport is taking a downturn.

Leitner said incoming and outgoing passenger traffic “has been pretty low.”

“I didn’t check the board this morning, but just a few on each flight,” Leitner said.

Mosinee has numerous passenger planes parked on their apron due to the drop in airline traffic nationwide, and airlines are looking to smaller airports for storing jets as the shutdown grounds more planes. Leitner said that could happen at his airport, too.

“They called on Friday (April 10) and asked if that is an option that was available, and I said yes,” Leitner said. “Then I talked to my station manager this morning and he hadn’t heard anything and I hadn’t either. But if they wish to park them on the west apron, and I think they were talking two, they certainly may.”

He said a maximum of five or six of the type of plane used by SkyWest for the Twin Cities run could be parked at the airport.

The finishing touches will be applied to the new, expanded secure area will be made late this week or early next week and attention will turn to the Infrared Deicer, which is getting a new fabric covering. These projects, and others are being funded in large part by federal money.

Jamie Taylor may be reached via email at [email protected]

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