Delta Air Lines will start using larger, jet-powered aircraft at Chisholm-Hibbing Airport this week.
Delta will replace its 34 passenger turbo-prop planes with larger jet-powered aircraft on Thursday. The new 50-passenger jets will make the 45-minute flight from Hibbing to Minneapolis twice a day.
Airport executive director Shaun Germolus said the change will help the airport keep up with a 30-percent increase in the number of passengers over the past two years. It's the first jet service to Hibbing since the 1970s, he said.
The Chisholm-Hibbing Airport Authority on Monday announced the change. The airport is important for the mining industry and other businesses on the Iron Range, Germolus said.
"It's a very critical element to our region. We look at is as a large economic development tool for our region," Germolus said. "We would be at a real competitive disadvantage if we didn't have public air service transportation."
Germolus estimates 11,000 passengers flew from Hibbing to Minneapolis last year.
(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)