Firstly, I am NOT biased against Great Lakes. They are a good company, they’ve been through a lot – and provide a VERY vital link to a large chunk of EAS markets. Great Lakes flies 19 seat Beech 1900D and 30 seat Embraer Brasilia 120ER turoboprops in and out of Denver, LA, Phoenix, and Minneapolis (well, for now).
As mentioned in my last post, Great Lakes is having some SEVERE pilot shortages. Various news articles pinpoint that number to about 100 TOTAL pilots, compared to about 300 this time last year.
So, reliability has crumbled. Great Lakes has been doing what it can to recruit new pilots, but I heard they’ve only been able to get them in the single digits. And they clearly are blaming the new FAA pilot requirements. As mentioned in my previous post, would a pilot with 1500 hours rather go to Great Lakes & fly a prop, or go to a Republic, Mesa, or SkyWest and fly a shiny jet?
So.. here’s the bad news. Ironwood. Devils Lake. Jamestown. Fort Doge. Mason City. Thief River Falls. Moab. Vernal. All these markets are going to lose their air service on February 1st, regardless of what happens with the EAS RFP selection. This is NOT good news. Anytime you have a break in service, it becomes much more challenging to rebuild the service.
I’m looking for some type of press release from Great Lakes, but so far there are just a few news stories.
My hopes are that Great Lakes can figure something out, or the FEDS move to relax the pilot requirements for some Part 121 carriers – otherwise this is going to get messy.