PASCO -- Nonstop flights from Pasco to Minneapolis on Delta Air Lines will resume in June.
The service, which was suspended Sept. 1 as a cost-saving measure, is scheduled to restart June 11. Meanwhile, Delta will continue to provide service to Minneapolis with a stop at Salt Lake City.
Delta's decision to cut the nonstop service was an attempt to reduce costs associated with long flights, said Jack Penning, director of market analysis at Sixel Consulting Group in Portland.
But he said passenger load in the Tri-Cities over the last three months of the summer was about 80 percent, explaining why Delta isn't concerned about not having enough demand for the nonstop flights.
The issue was the national economy, not the Tri-Cities, which has been relatively strong, Penning said.
Now the airlines are seeing the Tri-Cities as having the highest fares in the Northwest for markets serving 250,000 people or more, he said. That means Delta is willing to restore the nonstop flights to Minneapolis because people in the Tri-Cities are willing to pay those premium fares.
Penning said it is possible Delta will run the nonstop schedule as a summer seasonal program and then cut back to one-stop routes in the off-season winter months.
Return of the nonstop flight service will cut nearly two hours in travel time from Pasco to the Twin Cities.
The schedule on Delta's website for June 11 shows a 7:20 a.m. departure and three hours in the air to Minneapolis. The one-stop flights through Salt Lake City add another hour and 40 minutes to the trip.
There are seven other Pasco to Minneapolis flights June 11, with six routed through Salt Lake City and one through Seattle.