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Travel through Dubuque Regional Airport now suspended longer

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DUBUQUE, Iowa (KWWL) ----- American Airlines flights to and from Dubuque Airport will stay suspended for longer: likely, through the end of the year, now that a COVID-19 relief bill has stalled in Washington.

Across the board, fewer are are flying during COVID-19. American Airlines announced service would be cut off to 15 smaller-sized destinations, including Dubuque. Flights were set to resume in early November.

"It's not a Dubuque thing, it's not an Iowa thing, it's really a national, global thing," Todd Dalsing, director at Dubuque Regional Airport, said.

Now, that date pushed beyond November --- and, unless people start flying in droves --- maybe even longer.

The travel industry is hurting. Airplane travel is down 72% from this point last year, according to a TSA head-count.

Dalsing doesn't see a full recovery happening until the virus is all sorted out.

"If there is a vaccine that comes out, you're talking months. Another alternative is if Congress passes what's called a Payroll Support Program," Dalsing said.

This would pay federal relief money to companies like American so that they could pay workers to uphold otherwise unprofitable partitions of their business.

American is a tenant at the airport. Dalsing says "there are some American Airlines employees that have furloughed, some have taken other positions, and there are some that are taking early retirement."

The lack of air travel could be trouble for Dubuque's vibrant tourism sector, driven in large part thanks to those who travel by road from nearby states. Without corporate and regional events that rely on air travel, more tourism dollars are likely to be lost in the meantime.

"I'm hoping that once the COVID-19 situation starts to get a little bit more back to normal, we're able to get those flights back into Dubuque," Keith Rahe from Travel Dubuque said.

Luckily, much of the traffic and revenue at 'DBQ' comes from non-ticketed flights. University of Dubuque's flight program uses the facility and there are more select vacation-oriented flights that start here too.

AJ Capuano

Dubuque bureau reporter, KWWL

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