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Flight schedule changing: Earliest flights in, out eliminated

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news Jamestown, 58401

Jamestown North Dakota 121 3rd St NW 58401

Great Lakes Airlines’ passengers will have one less flight option at Jamestown Regional Airport starting Sunday.

The 6 a.m. flight from Devils Lake to Jamestown is being eliminated, as has the corresponding 6:10 a.m. flight to Minneapolis, the airport said.

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Jamestown Regional Airport Manager Matt Leitner said the new schedule means the earliest flights into and out of Jamestown will be at 8 a.m. inbound and 8:10 a.m. outbound Mondays through Saturdays. The earliest flights on Sundays will be 9 a.m. inbound and 9:15 a.m. outbound. Leitner said as always flight arrivals and departures depend on the weather.

Great Lakes Airlines officials were not available for comment this week due to vacations.

Leitner said Wednesday the Cheyenne, Wyo.-based airline sent the schedule change earlier this month, but offered no official explanation as to why the change was happening. Leitner and his staff did some investigating on their own, and he believes the change is due in part to a change in Federal Aviation Administration rules concerning co-pilots.

“Our understanding is we’re seeing a reduction in services due to a lack of pilot availability and scheduling,” he said.

In July, the FAA increased the minimum number of flight hours a first officer on a flight crew must have to be hired from 250 to 1,500. According to the FAA, the change went into effect on Aug. 1. The increase in the minimum number of flight hours for a first officer came in response to an airline crash in February 2009 near Clarence, N.Y.

According to published reports from other regional media, the change has decreased the number of pilots who are eligible to fly as first officers. Smaller, regional airlines like Great Lakes Airlines are having trouble finding qualified first officers as the larger, national airlines are hiring more pilots with the minimal qualifications.

Leitner said Jamestown Regional Airport has updated its website with the new airline schedule. He said Great Lakes Airlines’ employees at the airport have done a great job in trying to help displaced passengers. With the new schedule going into effect Sunday, once it’s in place, he is hoping things will “calm down.”

“I know Great Lakes Airlines is doing its best to accommodate the passengers,” he said.

Sun reporter Chris Olson can be reached at 701-952-8454 or by email at colson@jamestownsun.com

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