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Daily Pulse

Airlines ground small jets

David Brancaccio Nov 25, 2011

The Daily Pulse is up today with news that lots of puddle jumpers — the dinky airplanes the airliners often surprise us with — are being phased out.  
We’re about to see fewer jets with 50 seats or less and fewer of the little guys driven by propellers. The Associated Press says medium-sized jets are much more fuel efficient, if you amortize the cost of the extra passengers carried per flight.

Delta and United-Continental are among the carriers moving away from the very small planes, which were all the rage a dozen or so years ago when fuel was a lot cheaper. What’s good for fuel efficiency is not good for some small airports that may lose airline service in the shuffle.

According to the AP:

The loss of those planes is leaving some little cities with fewer flights or no flights at all. The Airports Council International says 27 small airports in the continental U.S., including St. Cloud, Minn., and Oxnard, Calif., have lost service from well-known commercial airlines over the last two years. More shutdowns are planned.

Travelers in cities that have lost service now must drive or take buses to larger airports. That adds time and stress to travel. St. Cloud lost air service at the end of 2009 after Delta eliminated flights on 34-seat turboprops. Now, passengers from the city of 66,000 have a 90-minute drive to the Minneapolis airport 65 miles to the southeast. 

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