Big Sky to end east coast service

Washington DC
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MAIR Holdings subsidiary Big Sky Airlines will cease east coast operations at midnight on 7 January.

The company has engaged a broker to assist in the sale of the Beech 1900D aircraft used in the eastern operations.

About 140 employees-primarily in Boston, Watertown, New York and Covington, Kentucky will lose their jobs.

Big Sky will continue to operate in Montana.

The regional began its eastern operations on behalf of Delta Air Lines in April operating primarily out of Boston Logan International airport.

The carrier offered service to Boston from Albany and Watertown, New York, as well as weekly intrastate service from Albany on a Watertown-Massena-Ogdensburg-Albany routing.

Big Sky said earlier this month that it will eliminate flights between Boston and Fredericton International airport in Canada starting 7 January.

“Our eastern operations were dramatically affected by a combination of unusually bad weather, disappointing revenue and record high fuel prices,” Big Sky president Fred deLeeuw says in a statement. “We have great people who have worked extraordinarily hard, but that factor could not overcome the challenges we faced, and we no longer believe that we can reach sustained profitability.”

The latest service cuts send a different message from what MAIR executives presented during the airline’s most recent earnings call.

The company posted a $2.5 million loss for the second quarter, which it attributes to startup costs for its Northeast expansion into four new markets and fuel costs.

MAIR president and CEO Paul Foley said during the call that the airline will be in the black “as [it] receives more aircraft” for the more lucrative Boston market.

Of the east coast service, he said, the “new markets [are] showing real progress.”