Great Lakes fills EAS void left by Big Sky

Washington DC
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Great Lakes Aviation will take over some essential air service (EAS) from soon-to-be-defunct Big Sky Airlines.

Big Sky parent company MAIR Holdings is selling the airline’s operating certificate. The unprofitable carrier will cease east coast and Montana operations next year.

Great Lakes, Big Sky’s competitor for Montana EAS, will assume operations to the destinations of Glasgow, Glendive, Havre, Lewistown, Miles City, Sidney and Wolf Point at subsidy rates totaling $8.2 million annually.

The carrier will use 19-seat Beechcraft 1900s for 12 Glasgow-Wolf Point-Billings, 12 Glendive-Miles City-Billings, 12 Havre-Lewistown-Billings and 17 Sidney-Billings round trips weekly.

Great Lakes may also switch the hub for those operations from Billings to Denver, explains the carrier in its US DOT filing.

The airline will operate Big Sky’s EAS routes “within about 60 days, and intends to work with the Department and [Great Lakes] to effect a seamless transfer of those services,” the filing says.

Big Sky was scheduled to start EAS routes in Montana March 1, but said earlier this month it would transfer those flights to other carriers.

MAIR is also ending flights Big Sky supplied to Delta Air Lines mainly from Boston. The seven Beech 1900Ds MAIR purchased for that service are being sold for roughly $18.9 million.