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Sawyer International Airport Adds Flights
By Kelsie Thompson
MARQUETTE - Traveling for business or leisure can often require extra time and effort when it comes to an isolated location like the Upper Peninsula, but thankfully Sawyer Inter- national Airport has got the area covered offer- ing flights to Detroit and Chicago and now Minneapolis-St. Paul.
The added flights, officials said, are also a boost to the local economy, connecting clients, ven- dors and customers in places of the country not easily accessible before.
In November 2016, Sawyer International Air- port and the Lake Superior Community Part- nership announced the return of non-stop air service to and from the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport via SkyWest Airlines - a welcomed option for travelers headed to or coming from the western U.S.
The flight, which is currently operating on a trial basis, was launched in March. According to officials, it's already a success.
Airport Manager Duane DuRay said while there were a couple weather-related "hiccups," that resulted in the cancellation of the inaugural flight, it's been doing "fabulous" so far.
"It has proven to be a very successful flight," DuRay said. "We've been filling the aircraft con- sistently."
The new flight, providing a direct connection to a third major hub in the Midwest, offers Upper Peninsula travelers hundreds of new
options in addition to what is already offered through Detroit and Chicago, said DuRay.
"There are 18 airlines that fly out of Min- neapolis, and it has more than 500 flights world- wide," he said. "So with that added option, it potentially opens 500 new flight options to each traveler."
So far, DuRay said the addition of the Min- neapolis-St. Paul flight has been very well received within the community.
"We're very pleased with the current passenger loads, and we would hope it will remain at 80 percent or higher," he said.
The Delta connector flight arrives in Mar- quette at 3:25 p.m. and departs back to Min- neapolis at 4:02 p.m., seven days a week, accord- ing to the airport's online flight schedule.
The addition of the new flight is the result of nearly two years of hard work by Marquette County officials like LSCP CEO Amy Clickner. Working with officials from Marquette County, and DuRay, Clickner said the LSCP raised money to fund an airport study, completed by Trillium Aviation.
Once the study was completed, Clickner said she and DuRay traveled to Utah to pitch their idea of the Minneapolis flight.
"We did our pitch, and (SkyWest) said they had been watching our market," she said. "They said, 'yes, you're right - we think there's an opportunity here.'"
While the addition offers travelers a quick, easy option for reaching many destinations not accessible before, it's also a boost to the local economy.
"It really connects us to the West Coast with an easy option, which is something we've heard from businesses here," said Clickner. "It can get business travelers out with an affordable flight, saves time, and, on the flip side, brings in clients or customers or vendors from the West Coast or Upper Midwest, getting them here quicker, eas- ier and cheaper."
Since the flight had only returned for a six- month trial, Clickner said flyers need to prove
it's wanted and needed in the area.
"We're very excited to have it," she said. "We
hope people continue to use it so we can keep it on a more permanent basis."
Among other recent accomplishments for Sawyer are an overall increase in passenger totals, a large-scale runway rehabilitation project and beginning the transition to a category three air- port.
"The future looks bright for Sawyer Interna- tional Airport," said DuRay. "We are making huge steps into the future to keep Marquette on the cutting edge."

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