3 regional airlines submit proposals to serve Pierre under Essential Air Service program

PIERRE, South Dakota — Three regional airlines have submitted proposals to provide federally subsidized service to South Dakota’s capital city.

The proposals to the Essential Air Service program to serve Pierre are from Aerodynamics Inc. of Beachwood, Ohio, Boutique Air of San Francisco, and Great Lakes Aviation of Cheyenne, Wyoming, according to KCCR radio.

Great Lakes currently provides daily flights from Pierre to both Minneapolis and Denver, but the carrier has had to cancel or delay many flights this year because of a lack of pilots. The airline cites federal regulations for the pilot shortage. Federal Aviation Administration rules that took effect in August 2013 require co-pilots to log 1,500 flight hours before they can work for commercial airlines. They previously required 250 hours.

The proposals from Aerodynamics Inc. and Great Lakes are for daily flights between Pierre and Denver. Boutique Air would offer daily flights to both Denver and Minneapolis. The amount of the subsidy requested ranges from $767,546 by Great Lakes to $4.6 million by the other two airlines.

City officials have until Nov. 17 to submit comments to the federal Transportation Department. A group of city officials and consultants will study the proposals before deciding which one to support, Mayor Laurie Gill said. The federal government could decide on a carrier as early as the end of the year.

Information from: KCCR-AM, http://www.todayskccr.com/