Monday, June 09, 2014

Mason City Municipal Airport (KMCW), Iowa: Decision by end of month on air service proposals

MASON CITY | The Mason City Airport Commission will meet in special session on Monday, June 30, to make a decision on the two latest proposals for commercial air service to Mason City.

In its latest effort to find potential airlines, the only two prospects to apply -- Great Lakes Airlines and Air Choice One -- had each applied earlier this year and were rejected by the commission.

The U.S. Department of Transportation is requiring a response on the latest proposals by June 2.

Commissioners at a meeting Monday said they need time to consider the latest proposals and decide what to do next. That's why they took no action Monday and scheduled the June 30 meeting. 

The airport has been without commercial service since February when Great Lakes suspended service, citing a pilot shortage.

When Great Lakes pulled out, the Airport Commission got permission from the federal DOT to get proposals from airlines to serve Mason City and Fort Dodge.

Great Lakes, headquartered in Cheyenne, Wyo., and Air Choice One out of St. Louis offered similar proposals, but both fell short of what the commission felt would best serve the needs of North Iowa.

Both offer nine-passenger planes. Air Choice One offered flights to St. Louis. Great Lakes proposed flights to either Chicago or Minneapolis.

Commissioners felt the planes were too small. With respect to Great Lakes, airport officials were unhappy with the service provided when Great Lakes was the commercial carrier for two years before it shut down operations in February.

Joni Dunn, airport manager, said last week the second proposals from Great Lakes and Air Choice One are basically the same as the first proposals.

In other action Monday, the commission heard about plans for new hangar at the airport. Todd Kyle of North Iowa Air Service said it is proposed to be 120-by-90 feet and will fill a need for more space. All hangars at the airport are occupied, he said.

"With the new development going up in Clear Lake, I think there will be a need for a large hangar even as construction is going on," he said.

Also, said Kyle, one of the commercial airlines that was interested in Mason City said hangar space was a requirement for them -- an example of how a new hangar could be a drawing card for business.

"I'm excited at the possibility of having a hangar of that magnitude at our airport," said Tom Hovland, who served as acting chairman Monday in the absence of Joni Dunn.

The commission also approved pay raises for airport employees of 2.5 percent for the next fiscal year, raises that are in line with those of other city employees, said Hovland.


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