With airlines feeling the pain of the economic crash, many mid-sized cities, too big for federal help but too small to draw many travelers, have resorted to shaking the money tree to keep the planes flying, the New York Times reports. Some, like Myrtle Beach, have slashed fees across the board. Duluth is considering going yet farther, guaranteeing to airlines that a certain percentage of seats will be filled.
Towns might have a tough time selling such guarantees, said one analyst. “When basic services are being cut back, it’s hard to justify paying airlines for service,” he said. But losing air service can be devastating to a town. “It hurt us terribly,” said one official in Roswell, which lost service for five years. “We were like nomads in the desert looking for water.”