Responding to a steadily growing demand for flights over the past several years, Delta Airlines will now offer fourteen non-stop jet flights per week to Detroit Metropolitan Airport. Delta announced that starting in May they will be offering a second flight on Saturdays from Chippewa County International Airport. Passenger counts have climbed on available flights from Chippewa Count International for years, especially since the advent of Jet service in 2011. The airport saw its second busiest month ever in March and is ahead of last year’s pace for the first quarter. More than 40,000 passengers a year pass through the passenger terminal at Kincheloe. According to a study conducted by Lake Superior State University’s Marketing Research class last fall, 63 percent of the passengers are U.S. residents and 36 percent are Canadian. Two thirds of the travelers are on business trips and one third travel for personal reasons. Managed by the Chippewa County Economic Development Corporation, Chippewa County International has obtained millions of dollars in federal and state grant funds for improvements and maintenance over the years. Following last year’s 3.5 million dollar repaving project, the main runway will be improved again this summer with a 1.5 million dollar lighting project. Local contractors and subcontractors have benefitted from more than 22 million dollars in airport improvement project grants since 2003, all designed to improve the safety and comfort of air travelers into and out of northern Michigan and Ontario.
A 2012 Community Benefits Assessment by the Michigan Department of Transportation showed that the Chippewa County International Airport activities and air/industrial park tenants totaled 257 jobs and more than 11 million dollars in direct income to residents in the county. Sales to suppliers and the “ripple effects” of income re-spending bring the total impact to more than 33 million dollars.