<corrects last paragraph, substituting Big Sky for Great Lakes >
Big Sky Airlines may have to terminate essential air service (EAS) in Montana
before its replacement, Great Lakes Aviation, takes over the routes.
Sky is asking the US DOT for an immediate payment of an $8.5 million subsidy
due on March 1 so it can maintain service.
unprofitable carrier tells DOT it is “in severe financial distress, and on the
brink of ceasing operations altogether.”
its request as “urgent,” Big Sky says it will be “compelled to shut down its
service to these Montana communities
before the smooth seamless transition to Great Lakes Aviation can be completed.”
Lakes, Big Sky’s competitor for Montana EAS, will assume operations to the
destinations of Glasgow
Glendive, Havre, Lewistown, Miles
and Wolf Point
at subsidy rates totaling $8.2 million annually.
Lakes CEO Chuck Howell tells ATI that his staff is developing a start
date “even as we speak.”
Beechcraft 1900 operator is
securing pilots and aircraft for the routes, which include 12 Glasgow-Wolf
Point-Billings, 12 Glendive-Miles City-Billings, 12 Havre-Lewistown-Billings
and 17 Sidney-Billings round trips weekly.
says this kind of transition typically takes between 60 and 90 days, and Great
Lakes will likely launch service within that timeframe.
hate to see what’s happening to Big Sky. At the same time, [we’re] excited to
move into new territory,” Howell notes.
Sky ceased east coast operations for Delta Air Lines earlier this month and
parent company MAIR Holdings is selling its operating certificate. The seven
Beech 1900Ds MAIR purchased for the mostly Boston
service are being sold for roughly $18.9 million. The carrier is also selling
$3 million in spare parts.