Jet airline service is coming to International Falls.
Northwest Airlines announced Thursday that seasonal jet service will replace a daily turboprop flight between International Falls and Northwest's Minneapolis-St. Paul hub.
"It think it's great news for the airport and for the community," said Bob Anderson, chairman of the International Falls-Koochiching County Airport Commission. "We're coming back into the jet age."
A Canadair Regional Jet that seats up to 50 passengers will replace a Saab 340 turboprop daily flight, which carried up to 34 passengers. Pinnacle Airlines Corp., a Northwest Airlink partner, operates the jet.
The jet service would operate between June 9 and Aug. 22.
The new flight will leave International Falls at 6:20 a.m. and arrive at 7:45 a.m. in the Twin Cities. The flight will depart from the Twin Cities at 10:25 p.m. and arrive at 11:50 p.m. in International Falls.
"We saw an opportunity to increase utilization of the fleet to meet the demands of the market," said Thomas Becher, a Northwest Airlines spokesman.
Tickets for the upgraded flight will become available Saturday.
International Falls community and business leaders have for some time been working with Northwest and its partners to improve air service to the border community, said Anderson.
The airport did have jet service in the 1980s, but economics and a slowdown in air traffic as a result of the 2001 terrorist attacks in New York, affected travel and service, he said.
In addition to carrying more passengers, the Canadair Regional Jet also has the capability of handling more cargo, said Anderson.
"This is a big deal for us," said Anderson of the jet service. "The traveling public feels strongly toward jet service and having one flight a day will help show that it's the way to go."
Last year, about 22,000 passengers took Northwest flights from International Falls, he said.
Because the airport has a 6,500-foot runway, passenger and cargo capacities on the jet service could be limited on days with high temperatures and humidity, said Anderson. Turboprop flights have been subject to the same conditions, he said.
Airport authorities are working with the Minnesota Department of Transportation and Federal Aviation Administration on a plan to lengthen the runway length next year to 7,400 feet, said Anderson.