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Bemidji airport expansion project will double terminal size

An $8.9 million airport terminal expansion and renovation projected kicked off in Bemidji on Saturday.

And that bigger terminal will get more use than some had thought, because U.S. Rep. Jim Oberstar announced during the groundbreaking that Delta Airlines won’t cut back service to Bemidji as much as expected. Reports the Bemidji Pioneer:

Oberstar used the occasion to announce that this fall Delta Airlines will not cut back its flights to Bemidji from four to two, but rather from four to three and it may even keep four daily flights.

“They made that commitment Friday,” Oberstar said. “When I pointed out there is a 65 percent load factor on those four flights, 184 passengers a day, that this is better than Northwest does in some of their big hubs.”

Delta needs to pay attention to the local loyalty and promotion that is given by all the area communities and local chambers of commerce, said Oberstar, who chairs a major transportation panel.

“Delta needs to honor that local commitment and they’re going to do that,” the Chisholm Democrat said.

At the groundbreaking, Sen. Amy Klobuchar praised local economic development efforts:

“This project is incredibly important to this area. You really do an amazing job … all working together here to make such a strong case for the importance of transportation, the importance of keeping these projects strong, because we’re only going to be able to move to the next century’s economy if we have the next-century transportation system.”

The $8.9 million airport project will double the size of the terminal and is being paid for with $1.1 million in local funds paid from PFC airline user fees, $800,000 from the state for areas not eligible for federal funding and the rest in FAA grants.

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