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Airline service to return to Thief River Falls in June

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news Brainerd, 56401
Brainerd MN 506 James St. / PO Box 974 56401

THIEF RIVER FALLS - Commercial passenger aircraft will return to Thief River Falls in June now that the federal government has approved another subsidized air service contract with Great Lakes Aviation.

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The airline suspended service at the end of January after several months in which many flights were canceled. It was the only airline to submit a bid.

Like the previous Essential Air Service contract, the new one will last two years and require 12 weekly round-trip flights between Thief River Falls and Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. But fewer seats will be available, as flights will carry just nine passengers.

Great Lakes, which also served Devils Lake and Jamestown, N.D., was affected by Federal Aviation Administration regulations that went into effect in July, increasing the flight experience a co-pilot must have to fly commercial aircraft from 250 to 1,500 hours.

That effectively grounded a large share of pilots until they could qualify under the new standard, according to the airline. Ultimately, the airline decided to suspend service altogether.

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