During the de-icer problems at Aberdeen Regional Airport this past week, Delta Air Lines chartered at least three buses to shuttle people between Aberdeen and Minneapolis.
Delta hired Aberdeen’s Montam Charters and Tours to take people from Aberdeen to Minneapolis on Tuesday evening and late Wednesday morning. The Tuesday trip concluded at a Twin Cities hotel. The Wednesday bus trip went straight to Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, said Monte Wahl, co-owner of Montam Tours. The people in those buses were unable to fly out of Aberdeen because a truck used to de-ice the jets broke down.
Delta also took people from Minneapolis to Aberdeen via bus on Sunday. That bus, which was supplied by a Twin Cities company, left Minneapolis at 3 p.m. and arrived about 8:30 p.m.
Delta spokeswoman Betsy Talton also believes a bus was sent from Minneapolis to Aberdeen on Monday “and was able to take a couple of folks on its return,” she wrote in an email.
Delta employees “certainly do their best to get people to where they need to go,” Talton said by phone.
Aberdeen transportation manager Mike Wilson said he'd heard that one of the buses traveled with only two passengers. But Talton said the Tuesday night bus contained about 20 passengers and the Wednesday bus had about 35.
The Rev. Tim Sersen of Aberdeen, who was trying to return home Sunday night, said he was put up at DoubleTree hotel in the Twin Cities Sunday night. After staying at a relative's house Monday night, he was able to catch a flight to Aberdeen on Tuesday.
Air service returned to normal Thursday in Aberdeen after a replacement de-icer truck arrived from Omaha, Neb. Both the malfunctioning truck and the replacement truck are owned by Delta Global Services, a subsidiary of Delta Air Lines.
The buses used by Montam were supplied by Harms Charters of Sioux Falls and Brookings.
On Thursday, Aberdeen Airport Board members encouraged Wilson to send Delta Global Services a letter saying there's a need for a better contingency plan in case a de-icer truck breaks down again.
Wilson will also tell Delta there is a need for better communications among Delta employees at different airports. Wilson heard that Delta employees at the Minneapolis airport “didn't realize that buses had been running.” So some travelers who were trying to get back to Aberdeen weren't informed of the bus option, Wilson said Friday.