Twenty-three other airports that Delta Airlines wanted to drop because of money-losing flights received bids for service from carriers. All the bids included subsidies from the federal government.
Instead of a 34-passenger turboprop, Watertown customers would fly on a 19-passenger plane. The number of flights would increase from two a day to three a day. The total number of seats available would decrease from 64 seats to 57 seats.
The change might affect overall passenger counts, said Mike Wilson, Aberdeen Regional Airport manager. While Watertown customers will appreciate more flight time options, many passengers prefer to fly on larger aircraft, he said. The 19-passenger plane also lacks a bathroom, which is inconvenient, he said.
Air Choice One requests a $2.6 million annual subsidy to serve Watertown. Sky West's bid to serve Aberdeen was a $1.5 million subsidy.
Great Lakes Aviation bid just less than $2 million to serve the Jamestown Airport. Great Lakes would use a smaller 19-passenger plane rather than the 34-passenger turboprop currently operated by Delta.
The airport with the highest bid for service was Thief River Falls, Minn. Air Choice One wants a subsidy of $4 million to operate flights there.
The Aberdeen airport had one of the lowest subsidies.
"Passengers at the Aberdeen airport won't notice any difference in service," Wilson said. "The jets are the same and will have the Delta logo. Passengers can still book flights on Delta. Sky West will just be our new connecting airline."
The switch to other carriers will take some time, Wilson said. There is a 30-day comment period followed by another time for response. Some of the cities won't see a change until 2012, he said.