For more than half a century there has been scheduled airline service at the Fort Dodge Regional Airport. Those commercial flights coupled with the airport's state-of-the-art facilities for corporate and charter traffic help keep the region prosperous.
Relatively few communities the size of Fort Dodge can boast of air service that matches what currently exists here. This is not simply a matter of convenience for the infrequent traveler. It is vital to the plans to keep major employers here and attract new ones.
Businesses tend to locate in spots that afford executives and sales representatives, as well as clients and customers, easy access to air travel. It is not an accident that major companies tend to be located close to airports.
Scheduled air service - as well as the airport's excellent facilities for corporate and charter flights - give Fort Dodge and other area communities an edge in the increasingly tough competition to keep and attract the companies that can make our economy grow.
Fortunately, the future of commercial air service locally looks bright. Beginning Wednesday, Great Lakes Airlines started serving Fort Dodge Regional Airport. This carrier replaces Delta Air Lines, which announced last year that it was ending its flights to many small and midsized cities.
Great Lakes will provide three round trips daily between Fort Dodge and Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport weekdays and two round trips on Saturdays and Sundays. All flights will be nonstop and will connect seamlessly to major carriers including American, Continental, Delta, Frontier, United and US Airways.
The inescapable truth is that even those Fort Dodgers who never personally board a plane here have an enormous stake in the success of the Fort Dodge Regional Airport. The economic prospects of our town and the prosperity of neighboring communities are enhanced by the presence of commercial air service and a well-run, up-to-date airport.
The number of passengers using flights into or out of Fort Dodge has increased dramatically in recent months. There were well in excess of 10,000 boardings here in 2011 and 2012 could see that number surpassed. This is strong evidence that as the economy improves further in the months ahead, the importance of our local airport will grow. Keeping the airport strong is a key element in the game plan to build a robust local economy as the 21st century unfolds.
It is exciting to have Great Lakes Airlines serving Fort Dodge. Its presence will help this community and region prosper.