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Published: Monday, 3/14/2011 - Updated: 3 years ago

Delta takes early exit from Toledo Express

Carrier was to have stayed in service until today

BY JIM SIELICKI
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Delta Flight 3081 leaves Toledo Express Airport for Minneapolis, marking the airline's last flight from the airport. The 50-passenger twin-engine regional jet had 22 passengers, Delta reported. Delta Flight 3081 leaves Toledo Express Airport for Minneapolis, marking the airline's last flight from the airport. The 50-passenger twin-engine regional jet had 22 passengers, Delta reported.
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Delta Air Lines cut its last ties to Toledo Express Airport Sunday -- a day earlier than announced -- with its final flight to Minneapolis taking off five minutes ahead of its scheduled departure.

tElizabeth Romuald, left, checks in for Delta's last flight from Toledo Express while her sister Anna, who was seeing her off to Minneapolis, lifts her bag onto the scale. tElizabeth Romuald, left, checks in for Delta's last flight from Toledo Express while her sister Anna, who was seeing her off to Minneapolis, lifts her bag onto the scale.
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Since its merger with Northwest Airlines in 2009, Delta has been in a steady retreat from Toledo.

Delta's ticket counter is ready for customers who won't be showing up. Delta's ticket counter is ready for customers who won't be showing up.
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Only American Eagle now offers daily, scheduled flights from Toledo, with its thrice-daily trips to Chicago.

The discontinued flight took several passengers by surprise.

Matt Liegel, 34, here to see family, said he visits Toledo four to five times a year and was unaware that he would be one of nearly two dozen passengers flying Delta Connection Flight 3081 for the last time.

Mr. Liegel said he generally uses Detroit Metropolitan-Wayne County Airport to fly home to Minneapolis because it has more direct flights and "it's just a 40-minute drive to Detroit."

He called his departure from Toledo Sunday "an anomaly."

Anna Romuald, 21, was at the airport to see her sister, Elizabeth, 18, off for a flight back home to the Twin Cities. She said she was sorry to see Delta end its service to Toledo Express, adding the loss of service to Minneapolis-St. Paul was especially poignant because their father is a Delta employee in Minneapolis.

"It's so sad to see Delta leave," said Anna Romuald, a youth pastor intern here.

James Smith, flying through Minneapolis en route home to Mason City, Iowa, said he had to cut his trip to Toledo short because his return flight was canceled. The change put him, his wife, and two sons onto Sunday's last flight.

The final Delta flight left Toledo with 22 passengers, said Chris Keley-Singley, spokesman for the airline in Atlanta.

Flight 3081, a 50-passenger twin engine regional jet, left the gate at 5:15 p.m., five minutes early; wheels were up four minutes later for the 55-minute flight to Minneapolis.

Once the Delta flight departed, a handful of passengers gathered at the American Eagle counter for a 6:40 p.m. departure to Chicago's O'Hare International Airport.

Beyond the security check-in and the closed Biggby Coffee shop, the only signs of life in the terminal's lower level were a scattering of customers at car rental counters.

The Toledo-Minneapolis route was launched Nov. 1 with two round trips daily, service that began the day after Delta ended feeder service between Toledo and Detroit Metro.

The Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority said the Detroit service was unable to compete with passengers driving to Detroit to board flights directly instead of making connections from Toledo.

Many airlines have reduced routes and frequency of flights from small airports such as Toledo Express in favor of higher-volume, higher-revenuer-generating airports.

Delta also has ended flights in Lynchburg, Va., Florence and Hilton Head, N.C., and Champaign, Ill., a Delta spokesman said last month,

The demise of the Delta Connect service began in January, when Delta, citing low passenger use on the Minneapolis route, cut back to one daily round trip. Delta said at the time the customer base for Toledo service was not there.

In January, Delta said 819 passengers used the Toledo-Minneapolis service, filling about a fourth of the available seats.

Delta's history with Toledo began in 1945, when its predecessor, Chicago & Southern Air Lines, offered a Toledo-Detroit-Memphis route.

Contact Jim Sielicki at: jsielicki@theblade.com, or 419-724-6050.



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