A group of pilots from soon-to-be defunct Big Sky Airlines want
to purchase the carrier.
United Transportation Union (UTU) -represented Big Sky
pilots would like to maintain Montana
operations, including seven essential air service (EAS) destinations and one
at-risk route linking Billings, Helena
UTU Big Sky chairman, Captain Bruce Tall says.
"We're looking for funding and everything else is turnkey," Tall says, adding he expects startup costs
will be $4 million.
Unprofitable Big Sky has ceased operations outside of Montana, including 15
communities served on behalf of Delta Air Lines. The carrier has also
threatened to exit intrastate Montana EAS before its replacement Great Lakes
Aviation can take over some of the routes.
Great Lakes is still determining a launch date for its
Montana operations in Glasgow, Glendive, Havre, Lewistown, Miles City, Sidney
and Wolf Point, Great Lakes CEO Chuck Howell previously told ATI.
Howell did not return calls concerning the Big Sky pilots'
US DOT would need to reverse its assignment of Montana EAS
to Great Lakes for the Big Sky pilots' plan to
"We would need to review [the] circumstances at the
time," a DOT spokesman says.
Big Sky parent MAIR Holdings has put the airline's operating
certificate up for sale.
"They [the pilots] certainly have the right to buy the
company and I've been trying to get them the information they need," Big
Sky president Fred deLeeuw tells ATI, adding, “They have a long road to go.” deLeeuw
points to the challenges of buying an airline.
Air will take over some
EAS routes abandoned by Big Sky starting around February 12.
approved the Massachusetts carrier's bid to
link Plattsburgh, New York
using nine-seat Cessna 402s thrice daily. The carrier, which also received
approval to fly to Saranac Lake, New York from Boston,
requested $2.81 million in annual subsidies for both services.
Big Sky had flown 19-seat Beechcraft
1900Ds to Plattsburgh and Saranac Lake,
as well as six other East Coast and Midwest EAS routes, but ceased those
operations on January 7 because of "enormous unsustainable financial
losses", the carrier says.
Reallocation of the six other Big Sky EAS routes -- Cape Giradeau, Missouri;
and the New York communities of Massena,
Ogdensburg and Watertown
-- is pending, the DOT spokesman says.
Great Lakes and Air Choice One are competing to serve Cape Giradeau,
Jackson and Owensboro
-- communities Big Sky had linked to Cincinnati
on behalf of Delta using 19-seat Beechcraft 1900Ds.
Great Lakes wants to fly Beechcraft 1900Ds between those communities and its Denver hub for a total
subsidy of $4.54 million. Air Choice One applied to use 9-passenger seat Cessna
Grand Caravans between those communities and its St. Louis hub for a total subsidy of $2.73
Pan Am Clipper Connection was the only applicant for Big
Sky's New York EAS, seeking to fly from Massena, Ogdensburg and Watertown to Albany
using 19-passenger seat British Aerospace Jetstream
31s thrice weekly, as well as reduced weekend service. The airline requested a
total annual subsidy of $5.49 million.