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Delta to offer flights from Rochester

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People who live near Rochester will soon be able to board an airplane close to home now that Delta Air Lines has decided to offer daily non-stop flights to Atlanta and Detroit.

The new Delta flights, which start Sept. 14, will provide Rochester with direct service to the three largest hub airports in the airline's network, including the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

Delta will offer one flight a day from Rochester to Atlanta and Detroit. The change will mark the first time Rochester has had direct, non-stop service to Atlanta. It also restores non-stop service to Detroit, which ended in 2011.

All flights will be on regional jets. Half of the planes will have first-class seats.

In addition, Delta passengers in about 225 cities in the United States and abroad will be able to reach Rochester with just one stop.

The Mayo Clinic expects to get a boost from an upgrade in the city's air service.

Patients coming from a great distance prefer to fly into Rochester rather than driving down from the Twin Cities, said Mayo spokesman Dr. John Wald. "To be able to fly into an area, especially if you're sick or injured, and to have a 15-minutes drive, as opposed to an hour and fifteen minute drive, it really is valuable."

The air travel upgrade will also help the clinic recruit physicians and make it easier for staff to reach distant destinations, he added.

The Rochester airport served about 220,000 passengers last year. Rochester also has direct flights to Chicago on American Airlines.