Delta Air Lines will provide its mainline service to the Quad-City International Airport for the first time in the airport's history, airport officials announced Tuesday.
Bruce Carter, the airport's aviation director, said the airport learned Friday that Delta will use an A-319 Airbus to provide one daily flight — a departure and arrival — between Moline and Atlanta.
Delta Connection, a regional carrier that has served the Quad-City airport, will continue to offer two other daily flights to Atlanta as well as service to Detroit and Minneapolis-St. Paul. The mainline flight replaces a Delta Connection flight already in the current schedule.
Carter, who announced the news at the Rock Island County Metropolitan Airport Authority meeting, said Delta's A-319 seats 126 passengers — adding about 50 seats than the regional jet that now provides the flight.
The plane includes 12 first-class seats and 114 coach seats. The A-319 flights will begin June 10. The main line flights will not be available for booking until after April 27.
"We're adding capacity in some markets where we think we have the opportunity to add additional service,'' said Delta spokesman Anthony Black.
He said the added capacity will come during the peak summer travel season from June 10 through Aug. 19. "If passengers fly it and fill the seats up, it tells us there is demand there."
Black said Delta has "retired a number of inefficient, 50-seat aircraft," which has led to a reshuffling of other aircraft in various markets.
"This is great news, a larger airplane to Delta's No. 1 hub and the largest airport in the world," Carter said. "This opens up more opportunities for operating larger aircraft from the Quad-City International Airport."
According to Carter, as most carriers are phasing out the smaller, regional jets for the larger aircraft. "If your airport can't support a 50-seat plane, you're in trouble."
"We already have made the investment in special ground handling equipment to support the A-319 operations," he said. In fact, Allegiant is scheduled to bring an A-319 into the market beginning Thursday for its Phoenix-Mesa flight.
Carter said the Delta mainline flight "is a great flight time." It will be particularly popular for corporate travelers who fly through the Atlanta hub for domestic and international connections. The flights will depart the Quad-Cities at 6 a.m., arriving in Atlanta at 8:51 a.m. The evening flight will depart Atlanta at 9:21 p.m. and arrive in the Quad-Cities at 10:17 p.m.
According to Black, the morning flight time will be attractive to business and leisure travelers, who can make connections to 200 other destinations as well as to Florida and the Caribbean.
As the airport's only mainline service, Carter said "if the community supports a mainline service it gives us the opportunity to get additional mainline service. Right now it is just to Atlanta, but it could be to Detroit or Minneapolis."
Delta has scheduled the mainline service from June to August, but Carter hopes it proves successful and the schedule is expanded.