Marcellus Shale development in northeast Pennsylvania is spurring Delta Airlines Inc. to add one daily flight and upgrade another to help accommodate more travelers to the region.

Delta plans to upgrade its single daily flight between its hub at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport. The airline said starting Jan. 4, a 65-seat jet will make the daily run, an upgrade from the 50-seat jet currently in service.

“We are very pleased to see Delta Air Lines expanding service in Northeast Pennsylvania for our area business and leisure air travelers,” said Barry Centini, airport director for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

Delta also said beginning March 3 it will add a fourth daily flight between Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport, another of its hubs.

Delta restored daily nonstop service to Atlanta on Sept. 7 after dropping the route in August 2009. Centini told the Times Leader that Marcellus Shale activities in Bradford, Tioga and Susquehanna counties were largely responsible for the increase in passengers at the airport over the last two years.

Northeastern Pennsylvania not only continues to lead production in Pennsylvania, but production in the area also continues to grow. Neighboring Bradford, Susquehanna and Tioga Counties combined for 260.2 Bcf during the first half of 2011, which represents a 60% jump from the 163.6 Bcf produced in the three counties in the second half of 2010, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. Bradford County alone, at 117.5 Bcf, produced more than a quarter of the state’s total Marcellus production during the period (see Shale Daily, Aug. 17).