AirTran to end service between Twin Cities and Chicago's Midway

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Travelers at an airport.
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AirTran Airways will end service on May 5th between the Twin Cities and Chicago's Midway airport.

Atlanta-based AirTran said high fuel costs are forcing the airline to cut some routes and that its Twin Cities-Chicago service isn't performing as expected.

The airline has generally charged between $100 to $200 for a round-trip flight. Northwest, AirTran's only competitor on the route, would match AirTran's fares.

Minneapolis-based travel expert Terry Trippler said that is what drove AirTran off the route, as travelers opted to fly Northwest when it equaled AirTran's prices.

"AirTran was the only reason airfares to Midway were cheaper than airfares to O'Hare," Trippler said. "And now what has obviously happened is too many people are addicted to their frequent flier program with Northwest. So, they wanted to fly Northwest Airlines but enjoy those AirTran fares. And they did. And now they've lost them, as usual. So, now we'll have fares go up."

Trippler said he hasn't seen any price hikes yet on the route, but he contends they're inevitable with AirTran's exit.

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Hobbit Travel owner George Wozniak also said AirTran's exit from the route will mean higher fares.

"That's too bad because I'll tell you what, they are the only guys that are keeping Chicago reasonably priced," Wozniak said. "Once you turn it over all to the legacies, then fares go way up."

The legacies -- Northwest, American and United airlines -- all fly to Chicago's O'Hare airport. Northwest flies to both O'Hare and Midway.

So far, there's no sign carriers have hiked fares between here and Chicago.

While it's dropping service to Chicago, AirTran is not pulling out of the Twin Cities. AirTran will continue flying from the Twin Cities to Atlanta and Orlando.