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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Delta Air Lines is dropping nonstop flights between Salt Lake City and cities in South Dakota and Arkansas, including the hometown of Wal-Mart Stores Inc.
The cuts are part of a reduction in domestic flights as Delta seeks to contain losses from higher fuel costs that are expected to wipe out the airline's operating profits for the final three months of the year.
"While we're seeing some domestic reductions, we're continuing to see an increase in international flights," Delta spokesman Anthony Black said Friday.
Delta will start a daily flight between Salt Lake City and Paris starting June 2, the first direct flight between Utah and Europe.
Atlanta-based Delta and its partners operate 335 flights from Salt Lake City.
Daily flights between Salt Lake City and Sioux Falls, S.D., started in June 2006 and, while they were initially popular, were only about 60 percent full this year. Summer occupancy was better at 77 percent.
"That doesn't make money for an airline," Sioux Falls Regional Airport Executive Director Mike Marnach said. "It's more of a leisure market."
But the loss of the route was a blow to the Sioux Falls airport, which was working to stem the loss of customers to airports in Omaha, Neb., and Minneapolis.
Delta will end Salt Lake City's flights to Sioux Falls and Bentonville, Ark., the home of Wal-Mart, on Jan. 8.
Black said Salt Lake City passengers still can get to Bentonville on Delta flights via Cincinnati and Los Angeles. The trips, however, will be longer.
At an investor's conference earlier this month, Delta President and Chief Financial Officer Ed Bastian said he would be making several cost-cutting moves to deal with higher fuel prices and a weakening economy.
He said his goal was to trim $400 million in operating costs in 2008.
Information from: Argus Leader, www.argusleader.com
(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)