Great Lakes Airlines, a Wyoming-based regional carrier, announced that it will suspend scheduled flight operations effective Monday, March 26, after more than 40 years in business.
A release from the company said that it was going to lay off employees and that its 34 planes were available for sale.
“Critical staff members needed to support the scheduled airline certificate, repair station certificate, reservation platform and maintain the fleet will be kept onboard until the airline’s assets can be sold,” the release said.
A notice on the company’s website said that Great Lakes was not entering bankruptcy.
“Although we are ceasing flight operations, it is important to note that the company has not entered bankruptcy and will continue to operate certain segments of the business,” the release from company officials said. “We will continue to support the ADI flights operating between Denver, Pierre and Watertown.”
ADI -– Aerodynamics Inc.– operates scheduled service between Denver, Pierre, S.D. and Watertown, S.D.
The company cited changes in flight officer qualifications enacted in 2015 as a reason for the shutdown. It said that it had difficulty finding qualified pilots and caused flights to be suspended.
Wyoming National Public Radio reported that Great Lakes was the sole carrier operating flights to Cheyenne, the state’s capital. The city’s mayor said it will be looking for another carrier to re-establish service there.
A notice on Great Lakes’ website directed ticket holders for flights on or after March 27 to contact their original booking source for a refund.
“If booked directly with Great Lakes, call 1-800-554-5111,” the notice said.
Great Lakes Airlines was founded in 1977 by Doug Voss and Ivan Simpson in Spirit Lake, Iowa.
In a report by Colorado Public Radio, the Essential Air Service (EAS) program is on the chopping block in Trump’s budget. EAS helps fund small airlines, like Great Lakes Airline, to provide service to smaller airports throughout the country. Without this funding, these small airlines could fold.
In Colorado alone, Pueblo, Alamosa and Cortez airports are operated by airlines who receive EAS funds. If these funds go away, small airlines may not be able to afford to provide service to and from these small cities. Great Lakes Airlines currently receives EAS funding for flights in and out of Denver, Pueblo and Telluride, Colo.
Great Lakes Airlines has announced a new date to begin flights between Salina, Kan., and Denver. Flights will now begin June 15.
The airline was originally set to begin flights April 1, but was delayed due to the lack of Transportation Security Administration (TSA) security screening at the Salina airport.
TSA announced at the end of April that they would restore screening service at the airport, but did not say when. Interested parties can begin booking their flights to or from Salina, Kan. now via the Great Lakes Airlines website.
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) announced that it will reinstate security service for the Salina, Kan. airport. Great Lakes Airlines was set to begin servicing the Salina Airport April 1, but could not due to lack of TSA service. With the restoration of TSA service at the airport, Great Lakes hopes to be able to start providing flights between Salina and Denver by June. Read more from KAKE News ABC.
The TSA Fairness Act (H.R. 4549) passed in the House of Representatives April 13. The bill requires the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to provide security services at smaller airports that are serviced commercially.
This Act is significant because the TSA currently has the right to refuse service to smaller active airports. A key example is Great Lakes Airlines; the airline has has been unable to begin service at the Salina, Kan. airport (originally set to begin April 1) because TSA has refused to supply security at the airport.
The U.S. Department of Transportation has selected Great Lakes Airlines to provide Essential Air Service Program flights from the Salina Regional Airport to the Denver International Airport. Great Lakes will provide Salina area residents and businesses with nonstop service in 30 seat Embraer Brasilia regional airliner. The new flights are scheduled to start on April 1, 2016. Doug Voss, Great Lakes chairman and CEO commented that “we are looking forward to providing Salina passengers access to the Denver hub that offers nonstop, connecting flights to over 180 destinations. Our code share partnership with United Airlines will make ticketing easy and convenient.” Improvements to the passenger screening and seating areas at the M.J. Kennedy Air Terminal are underway in order to better accommodate Denver flights. The improvements will enable Great Lakes to offer passengers easy check-in and a remodeled boarding area. Salina Airport Authority board chairman, Mike Hoppock stated that “Denver flights will benefit area businesses and colleges who need to bring visitors and students to Salina from across the nation. The terminal building improvements will benefit both local residents and visitors to our community.” The USDOT selection can be found at www.salinaairport.com.
PRESCOTT, Ariz. – The Denver flight connection that made a brief return to the Prescott Airport this past summer will go away again, effective Dec. 2.
Great Lakes Airlines plans to eliminate its connection between Prescott and Denver next month, and replace it with a twice-weekly flight to Phoenix, according to Station Manager Kathy DeFreitas.
Great Lakes, which provides Prescott’s commercial air service through the federal Essential Air Service (EAS) subsidy program, had revived the Prescott-to-Denver connection on Aug. 1, 2015, after discontinuing the connection previously in February 2014.
Following discussions with Transportation Division representatives of the Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers union (SMART TD), Great Lakes Airlines has agreed to implement a Captain Incentive Plan (CIP); an annual calendar year program which pays a cash incentive to eligible pilots each calendar quarter.
Intended to retain existing captain qualified pilots and provide an incentive for first officers (FO) to upgrade to the position of captain, the CIP proposal was codified as a letter of agreement under the Railway Labor Act to be effective Nov. 4, 2015.
With the assistance of SMART TD Vice President Jeremy Ferguson, Senior Pilot John Nolan and Local 40 President Dave McLaughry were instrumental in ensuring the CIP agreement would meet the approval of the pilot group. “This is a win-win situation for both the airline and the pilots, as it will surely help keep qualified pilots at a time when the airline needs them most. It will be another nice wage increase following the contract ratification last year that resulted in significant pay raises,” said Ferguson. “The agreement also ensured pilots who meet the criteria are eligible to receive a bonus this quarter ending Dec. 31, 2015, so our captains should see the results of our negotiations in the very near future.”
The following pilots are eligible to participate in the plan and are termed “CIP Eligible”:
Currently qualified BE-19000 and EMB-120 captains.
Pilots who successfully pass the BE-19000 or EMB-120 captain check ride.
EMB-120 FO’s who have passed a captain’s pre-test, but who have not upgraded to captain at the company’s request due to staffing requirements.
The company will also apply the provisions of this program to recruit and to retain first officers for the EMB-120 aircraft. EMB-120 first officers must possess an Airline Transport Pilot/Restricted Airline Transport Pilot certificate and an EMB 120 type rating to be eligible for the CIP.
To receive the quarterly incentive payment (IP), the pilot must be an active employee or on a company- approved leave of absence (as defined in Section 10 of the current labor agreement between the company and SMART TD) on March 31, June 30, September 30 and December 31 of the plan year. The quarterly IP will be paid on the first regularly scheduled flight crew payday following the quarter-end dates. The CIP will be taxed at the employee’s normal rates, or the pilot may elect to have the IP contributed in whole or in part into the pilot’s 401(k) account.
The quarterly IP amount to be paid will be calculated by multiplying the applicable amount shown in the quarterly incentive column below, times the percentage of the calendar quarter for which the pilot is active. If the pilot is on a company-approved leave of absence they will be considered in active status for leave periods up to 15 days. Leave time in excess of 15 days will be deducted from the period of active employment status in the quarter.