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One less airline at RST, airport moves forward

ROCHESTER, Minn. (FOX 47) — Rochester International Airport will have one less airline servicing the area. United Airlines is discontinuing non-stop flights from the Med City to Denver on October 31.

“This is very difficult news for our community,” RST executive director John Reed said in a statement to FOX 47. “We share in the disappointment at the loss of this route. The ongoing effects of the pandemic continue to impact the air travel industry and airlines are making decisions to terminate flights in communities across the country.”

After about a year of non-stop travel to Denver, Rochester travelers are disappointed, too.

“I was kind of shocked because I’ve taken that flight and it was full. I’ve heard numbers were great,” RST traveler Joe Powers said. Powers just took the United flight last month to see a concert at Red Rock.

Another traveler, Don Charlson, took a United Airlines plane to Denver just two weeks ago for a football game.

Joe Powers was surprised to see United Airlines pulling out of the Rochester International Airport. “I was kind of shocked because I’ve taken that flight and it was full. I’ve heard numbers were great,” Powers said.

“I’m totally disappointed,” Charlson said. “It’s a blemish on our record here in Rochester. Why can’t we keep our people here to fly to wonderful places. We used to be able to fly to Atlanta, St. Louis, Detroit, Denver. It was so easy.”

Easy maybe, but not taken advantage of enough by RST passengers. In a statement to FOX 47 from United Airlines blames the cancellation due to a “lack of sustainable long-term demand.”

Meanwhile, the airport says it’s in the process of wrapping up phase one of six in its runway project.

“We’re staying on task and looking towards the next phases,” Reed said earlier this week.

Over the summer, the existing runway materials were removed. The goal is to be done with phase one, by the end of November, so it will be usable for the winter.

“I’m grateful for our partners at the Federal Aviation Administration, especially the state of Minnesota with state bonding,” Reed said. “The city of Rochester for investing in infrastructure that’s necessary and needed for our local economy.”

In total, the project costs $79.2 million. By the end of it, runways will be reconstructed, and taxiway lighting and pavements will be updated.

“We can’t let one flight to Denver ruin things for us,” Charlson said. “Looking forward and continuing to improve the airport and the service we have. It’s already good, and continually making it better will make Rochester a better place to live.”

If you have purchased a flight to Denver with United after Oct. 31, they will be contacted to make alternate arrangements. Customers can also rebook at or by calling United Airlines reservations at 800.UNITED.1 (800.846.8331).

RELATED STORY: RST breaks ground on runway improvement project (

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Beret Leone

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