Great Lakes Airlines (Cheyenne) has announced it will end Essential Air Service (EAS) passenger service a month early at Great Bend, Kansas on April 1. The struggling regional carrier will also end passenger flights at Dickinson, North Dakota on March 26 after 21 years. Williston, North Dakota will be dropped on March 30. Great Lakes will also suspend operations at McCook, Nebraska on April 1. The airline is blaming a pilot shortage but critics state the company does pay enough to attract enough pilots.
SeaPort Airlines has bid on the routes with the Department of Transportation (DOT).
Great Lakes has received permission to operate some of their Beech 1900Ds with only 9 seats (please see the seating diagram below) rather than the normal 19 seats so the aircraft can be operated under Part 135 regulations. This allows the company to hire First Officers who have less the 1500 hours FAA requirement. The aircraft still have a captain with at least 1500 hours of experience with an ATP rating. Even with this measure, the airline was not able to stave off the termination of service to these affected cities.
Copyright Photo: Michael B. Ing/AirlinersGallery.com. Beech (Raytheon) 1900D N201GL (msn UE-201) with a promotional Pierre, South Dakota image on the tail arrives at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).
The shrinking Great Lakes Route Map (routes shown as of February 1):