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      Passengers traveling through Upper Peninsula airports declined in 2012

      According to the Michigan Department of Transportation, more than 200,000 people flew out of one of the U.P. airports last year. That number is a significant decrease from 2011.

      In 2011, the number of passengers leaving from U.P. airports was around 245,000. The question is: why the difference?

      Well, it all has to do with airlines scaling back the number of flights at U.P. airports.

      Airports across the U.P. are looking to get more travelers in their terminals.

      The Delta County Airport had 23,271 passengers in 2012.

      Airport Manager Connie Ness says it may have to do with the loss of a Delta flight to Minneapolis.

      "The industry is cutting back and Delta is trying to do the most they can with their flights. I think they just saw that one Minneapolis wasn't quite enough service, not enough consistency," said Ness.

      Iron Mountain airport is at almost 15,000. However, that number could drop this year. As of last month, they have no flights to Detroit.

      Delta County now has two direct flights to Detroit, while Iron Mountain only provides flights to Minneapolis.

      All U.P. airports are seeing a decrease in passengers from 2011--Houghton is at 47,792, Ironwood at 4,680, Sault Ste. Marie 39,125, and Marquette with the most at 70,971 passengers.

      Sawyer International Airport saw a huge shift when their scheduled flights decreased from eight round-trip flights down to three per day. However, after maintaining an 80 percent passenger load on flights throughout the year, Delta Airlines will soon be offering another flight from Sawyer to Detroit starting in March.

      "I anticipate the airports ridership to climb. Sawyer carried, for several years, 50 percent of the ridership across the U.P., and we are going to strive to do what we can do to regain our ridership," said Duayne Duray, Sawyer International Airport Manager.

      It's important for airports to have at least 10,000 passengers per year. That's because the Federal Aviation Administration gives a million dollars to airports exceeding 10,000 passengers.

      That money goes to infrastructure maintenance, costs, and upkeep.