Great Lakes Aviation in front for air serviceBy the bid deadline for Essential Air Service to Jamestown, two airlines submitted proposals, with a clear front-runner — Great Lakes Aviation, out of Cheyenne, Wyo.
By: Kari Lucin, The Jamestown Sun
By the bid deadline for Essential Air Service to Jamestown, two airlines submitted proposals, with a clear front-runner — Great Lakes Aviation, out of Cheyenne, Wyo.
The other airline, Sovereign, submitted a more expensive bid and also currently has no planes, making its selection highly unlikely.
“I’m OK with what we have to compromise with,” said Jim Boyd, chairman of the Jamestown Regional Airport Authority after the group’s monthly meeting Wednesday. “It was a hard battle here. We didn’t get what we wanted.”
It could have been worse, however, Boyd noted — there could have been no bids for the Essential Air Service contract to Jamestown, which uses federal funds to subsidize commercial flights to small communities.
As it was, Jamestown airport officials tried to convince Pinnacle, a Delta subsidiary, and SkyWest to bid on the Essential Air Service, but neither did.
Should the Great Lakes Aviation bid of approximately $1.9 million be accepted, Jamestown will still have three daily flights to Minneapolis, just as it does now.
However, the airplanes running the service will change.
Currently, Delta’s Saab 340 planes run the route to Minneapolis in about one hour and 10 minutes. The planes seat 34, and Delta plans to retire them as of Dec. 1.
At that time, the intent is to replace those planes with Canadair CRJ-200 aircraft. These jets seat 50 people and the trip to Minneapolis will take slightly less than an hour.
If Great Lakes Aviation’s bid is accepted, the planes that fly from Jamestown to Minneapolis and back will be Raytheon Beech 1900D aircraft, which seat just 19 people. The small planes can make the trip to Minneapolis in a little more than an hour.
The Beeches do have 73-inch cabin ceilings, so most people will be able to stand upright in them comfortably, but they do not have restrooms.
“They do have a larger aircraft. They didn’t propose to use that aircraft,” Boyd said. “Sooner or later (maybe) we can talk them into a bigger plane. That could be a possibility. I don’t think we’ll talk them into (IT) at this point.”
The possibility may be more real for the next two-year EAS contract.
If the Great Lakes bid is accepted, flights would depart Jamestown at approximately 6:35 a.m., 12:14 p.m. and 3:50 p.m.
Great Lakes has not tied Devils Lake in with Jamestown’s service, but does reserve the right to do so at a later time.
The Great Lakes bid proposal for Devils Lake shifted its daily flights from three to two and tied that airport with Thief River Falls, Minn. — both worrisome elements for that airport, Boyd said.
For the Jamestown Regional Airport, the changeover from Delta to Great Lakes would likely take place some time in the spring.
The Jamestown community has 30 days to respond to the proposal with letters of support or letters of adjustment, before the U.S. Department of Transportation selects a bid. More details on that process will be available next week, Boyd said.
In other news Wednesday, the Airport Authority:
* learned Glenn Christianson has stepped down as president of the Jamestown Drag Racing Association. In his place will be Leon Westerhausen.
Both men came before the board to request to use the airport’s runways for the annual drag races at the end of July, under the same terms as previous years and subject to the Federal Aviation Administration’s approval.
* received its annual audit.
* is seeking a new member to replace Dennis Nelson, who will retire from the board at the end of the year after serving since 1993. Terms are five years long.
Anyone in Stutsman County interested in the position should email the new county chief operating officer, Casey Bradley, at email@example.com or call 252-9035. Interested Jamestown residents should email Mayor Katie Andersen at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 252-5900.
Sun reporter Kari Lucin can be reached at 701-952-8453 or by email at email@example.com