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WATERLOO --- Waterloo air service will get an upgrade this fall.

Delta Air Lines is realigning its fleet that serves 25 of its small-market cities. For some hubs, that means a reduction in service. In Waterloo, the 34-seat Saab turboprop plane will be replaced by a 50-seat jet plane in the Delta fleet.

The change will mean 16 additional seats will be available per day for air travelers.

"We feel good about Delta choosing to reinvest into the city," said Brad Hagen, executive director of the Waterloo Regional Airport.

The turboprop plane is being phased out of the Delta fleet.

Delta also announced Friday its intention to file a notice with the U.S. Department of Transportation that says the company plans to discontinue service to some of its smaller cities, including Waterloo. The filing is a necessary step in order to apply for a federal subsidy through the Essential Air Service program and flights in and out of Waterloo will not be disrupted, Hagen said in a prepared statement. Similar notices were filed by Delta for airports in Minnesota and North Dakota.

The subsidy would allow service to Waterloo and other airports to be "economically viable" to Delta. The economic climate and a decrease in air travel means flights at Waterloo are no longer "financially self-sustaining" for Delta, Hagen added.

The move to apply for a federal subsidy means different airlines can submit bids to service Waterloo. Delta will be submitting a proposal, according to Hagen.

Hagen said Waterloo was one of nine markets that will see a similar upgrade. Six markets will see a reduction in service and 10 will lose Delta service, he added.

Delta made the announcement Friday.

"We were hoping for this," Hagen said. "But you never really know until the decision is made."

Hagen said business at the airport was likely a factor in the decision.

"Historically, Waterloo has supported the service pretty well," he said.

Hagen also credited local efforts including the Greater Cedar Valley Alliance and Chamber, local lawmakers and the Waterloo and Cedar Falls Convention and Tourism Bureaus for their efforts to show the airline what the area offers.

The airport also has been upgraded including renovations of the terminal in recent years, Hagen added.

Courier staff writer Karen Heinselman and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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