New airport schedule comingA schedule change is in the works for Jamestown Regional Airport, as air service provider Great Lakes Aviation begins addressing questions of reliability posed by JRA officials.
By: Kari Lucin, The Jamestown Sun
A schedule change is in the works for Jamestown Regional Airport, as air service provider Great Lakes Aviation begins addressing questions of reliability posed by JRA officials.
“Believe me, we’re going to be watching (Great Lakes) intently to ensure this gets rectified, and we’ll be asking them a lot of questions if there are a lot of delays,” said Matt Leitner, JRA manager. “We’ve got to get them to a standard that we deem acceptable, operationally, performance-wise.”
Leitner was among a four-person Jamestown delegation to Washington, D.C., that, together with officials from the Devils Lake Airport, sought solutions to late and cancelled flights as well as noncompetitive fare prices from both Great Lakes and former air service provider Delta Air Lines.
At the meeting, which was also attended by Lt. Gov. Drew Wrigley and representatives of North Dakota’s congressional delegation, the JRA presented a list of concerns to Great Lakes and Delta.
Foremost among them were issues with reliability, timeliness and completion, and high fare prices that are not competitive with Bismarck and Fargo fares.
Fare competitiveness is not considered a problem for flights from Jamestown to Minneapolis and back, but for through flights booked from Jamestown to Minneapolis to other locations via Delta.com or through travel agencies.
In fact, fares between Jamestown and Minneapolis are very good, said Jackie Tarpinian, co-owner of Globe International Travel — generally between $169 and $200 round trip.
Additionally, if flights from Fargo or Bismarck are sold out, flights from Jamestown are comparably priced, Tarpinian said.
Prices vary quite a bit from day to day, carrier to carrier and airport to airport, however, so sometimes flying out of Jamestown is still the cheapest option or, at least, comparable, she said. Other times prices are much higher than flights from Fargo or Bismarck.
“Delta is working with us to get those fares down,” Tarpinian said.
In Delta’s response to JRA’s questions, however, Senior Vice President Don Bornhorst wrote “… there are a number of issues raised in the matrix presented by Jamestown that Delta is not in a position to discuss and must defer to Great Lakes. This includes issues relating to service reliability, equipment and fares.”
Jim Boyd, chairman of the Jamestown Regional Airport Authority, said he felt the noncompetitive pricing is a Delta issue, not a Great Lakes issue.
“I think that was not entirely accurate, because we’re talking about the fares as compared to complete Delta fares out of Fargo or Bismarck,” Boyd said. “… the variation comes from linkage with Delta.”
The Great Lakes response to JRA questions was to reallocate aircraft and change the Jamestown schedule to create more redundancies in the system.
“I think they tried to be responsible here,” Boyd said.
The change includes an earlier departure time, allowing for more connections in Minneapolis, and three flights a day Sunday through Friday, with two on Saturday.
Another concern listed by Jamestown Regional Airport is that Delta Vacations — the airline’s vacation travel service — can no longer be booked to and from Jamestown.
Delta did not address the question in its response, and Great Lakes stated it had no control over the issue but would attempt to find out how it could be implemented.
Delta’s response did include possible ways to ensure passengers experienced less difficulty connecting with Delta in Minneapolis should Great Lakes delays or cancellations occur.
Delta suggested a clearer division of responsibility could help — whichever airline was late would reaccommodate the passenger. Also, Delta is attempting to establish an electronic messaging system for better communications between the two airlines regarding delays, cancellations and diversions.
Great Lakes also noted in its response that it will install computer sets in terminals so customers can print boarding passes, look at flight schedules and check in on Delta and other airlines’ Web-enabled check-in systems.
The airlines are also continuing to work together to implement SkyMiles for flights between Minneapolis and Jamestown that connect with other Delta flights.
“We’ll continue to ask people to help us. If they see a fare anomaly between us and Fargo, or between us and Bismarck, (we hope) that they will tell us so we can investigate it and determine the reason why,” Leitner said. “… we’ll just continue to watch and put pressure on them.”
Neither Great Lakes nor Delta could be reached for comment.
Sun reporter Kari Lucin can be reached at 701-952-8453 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org