Saturday, January 18, 2014

Great Lakes Airlines paring back operations: Clovis Municipal Airport (KCVN), New Mexico

Great Lakes Airlines is significantly paring back operations at the Clovis Municipal Airport. And it might be giving two weeks notice.

The airline, which has been operating for Clovis since 2005 as part of a federally funded program to provide air service to rural areas, will only operate a midday flight Monday through Friday starting next week, Airport Manager Gene Bieker said.

Bieker said Friday morning that he had a conversation with Great Lakes CEO Chuck Howell, who told him the airline may not be able to serve the city after Jan. 31, and that the airline is down to about 100 pilots, about one-third of the amount it carried one year ago.

Attempts to contact Great Lakes representatives on Friday were unsuccessful.

No flights are listed as available on Great Lakes’ website,, beginning in February.

The Cheyenne, Wyo.-based airline sent a termination letter to Clovis last month, requesting the Department of Transportation help the city in its mission to find a carrier that would provide service to Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport.

Under terms of Essential Air Service, a carrier that chooses termination must continue service to a community until a new air service is in place. But there’s a lot of gray area in what constitutes continued service.

“The understanding I have is because of the way EAS is structured, they only get paid for the flights they make,” City Manager Joe Thomas said.

The airline began operations with Clovis in April 2005 with flights to and from Albuquerque Sunport, and operated under that agreement until it decided to move operations to Denver International Airport in late 2012.

The change was made in an attempt to drive up passenger numbers, due to the larger number of connecting flights at DIA. But the service only had about four passengers per flight before the termination notice was sent, and Bieker said he wasn’t surprised when the termination notice was delivered.

The Department of Transportation currently has asked for bids on service to Clovis, with requests for proposal accepted until Feb. 12.


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