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The Prescott Daily Courier | Prescott, Arizona

home : latest news : local August 27, 2015

1/22/2014 6:00:00 AM
Great Lakes to end Denver flights
Cindy Barks
The Daily Courier

PRESCOTT - An airline connection that has taken Prescott passengers to Denver International Airport for the past five years will go away in February.

The City of Prescott announced this past week that Great Lakes Airlines plans to discontinue its regular flights between Prescott and Denver on Feb. 1.

A revised flight schedule from the airline shows flights only between Prescott and Los Angeles International Airport.

Although a Great Lakes spokesperson declined to comment this week, Prescott Airport Manager Jeff Tripp reported that Great Lakes' passenger numbers on the Denver flights totaled less than 1,500 in 2013.

That compares with about 3,700 passengers on the Prescott-to-LAX flights.

Tripp said the most recent EAS contract does not require the flight to Denver, but rather offers it as an "and/or" option, along with the connection to LAX.

The airline has been offering one flight to and from Denver each day (14 flights per week), as well as two flights per day to and from LAX (28 total per week).

The new schedule will offer three flights per day to and from LAX Monday through Saturday and two flights to and from Los Angeles on Sundays.

For decades, Prescott's commercial airline service has operated under the federal Essential Air Service (EAS) subsidy program. Great Lakes has held the EAS contract for Prescott since about 2005.

In March 2013, when the council discussed the renewal of the contract, Great Lakes and two other airlines - SeaPort Airlines of Oregon, and Sovereign Air of North Dakota - had bid on the contract with the Federal Aviation Administration.

Both of the other airlines were offering flights between Prescott and Phoenix, while Great Lakes proposed the LAX and Denver flights. The company was asking for an increase in its annual subsidy from $1.8 million to $2.1 million. The city supported staying with Great Lakes, and the new contract began on May 1, 2013.

Prescott Mayor Marlin Kuykendall mentioned the airline's proposal Tuesday, while commenting on the cancellation of the Denver flight. "When they made the proposal for the subsidy, that was part of the proposal," he said of the Denver connection.

So far, Kuykendall said city officials had been informed only about Great Lakes' change, but not the reasons for it. "That's all we know," he said. "We don't know any of the circumstances."

The Prescott-to-Denver link became a part of Great Lakes' schedule in 2009, when the airline eliminated regular flights between Prescott and Phoenix.

At that time, an airline official said the Prescott-to-Phoenix link was not generating significant traffic. Great Lakes added the Denver flight as an alternative.

While Great Lakes' overall "enplanement" numbers had shown decreases in past years - from 7,836 passengers in 2010 to 4,952 in 2012 - Tripp said the passenger total for 2013 stood at about 5,200.

Follow Cindy Barks on Twitter @Cindy_Barks.

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Reader Comments

Posted: Friday, January 24, 2014
Article comment by: Goldilocks Arizona

I have used Great Lakes to fly back and forth to Denver several times, and I also used them to continue from Denver to Cheyenne. Based on my observations, their little planes scared me to death. Once the inside collar of my window was held on with electrical tape! Seriously. It didn't give me a lot of confidence about the rest of the aircraft. Now I understand that GLA have lost a big chunk of the EAS contract in Cheyenne, and Cheyenne is also looking for a new carrier. Rather telling, since Cheyenne is their corporate headquarters.

Yes, it was handy to park at the airport and fly straight out, but I will adapt my schedule to take the local shuttle to Sky Harbor. I definately won't miss flying over the Rockies in that bumpy and noisy tin can.

Posted: Thursday, January 23, 2014
Article comment by: @ Hooty Hoo Hoo

Why do towns like this need air service?

Oh - I get it just for your convenience

By the way full time job, own 2 homes, and have a side business. I pay plenty of taxes.

Far as I'm concerned convenience is not a tax worthy cause.

Sorry make the drive to Phx. Then the taxes you pay for the gas will go to something that is really needed Good Roads.

Posted: Thursday, January 23, 2014
Article comment by: I Tried It-- What a Nightmare

Instead of flying from Phoenix to Denver to Dickinson ND, I tried flying from Prescott to Denver to Dickinson ND (2/10/12). I got to the Prescott airport before 8am for a 9am flight. The flight was first delayed and then cancelled due to engine trouble. I was rerouted for a 1pm flight from Prescott to LA to Denver which also got subsequently cancelled due to more engine problems. Next, I was put on a shuttle to Phoenix for a 6pm flight to Phoenix with a 3 hour layover in Denver and then on to a rescheduled flight to Dickinson ND. I got to my hotel in Dickinson after midnight and got about 4-5 hours sleep before my early breakfast meeting began in Dickinson. Needless to say, I would have gained over 11 hours if I just would have gone the normal route via Phoenix. Although I used the scheduled return flight to Prescott (which also had some minor delays), I flew via Phoenix on subsequent trips to Dickinson.

Posted: Wednesday, January 22, 2014
Article comment by: Michael Rethman

Does the City of Prescott know how many of Great Lakes' flights are cancelled? Their own staff told me that it's now over one-third. The Arizona Shuttle to PHX is routinely packed and many others drive to PHX and park -- there is demand. I know because I travel to and from Prescott 6x per year usually taking the Shuttle from PHX. (One recent experience with cancelled PRC-LAX flight on Great Lakes prompted me to give up on them.) The City of Prescott ought to be asking SkyWest to service Prescott, even a few round trips PRC-LAX per day would be a huge improvement .. and connections in and out of LAX go to everywhere, often non-stop (sorry Orange County).

Posted: Wednesday, January 22, 2014
Article comment by: Hooty Hoo

I took it about 3 times to Denver. It cost about $100 more round trip than Phx-Den which was worth it in time and parking. Too bad. As for those of you complaining about the subsidy and your precious tax dollars (lol, like most of you pay them), look at it this way: This is the only way towns like this can get commercial air service at all. An average of 5 passengers a day to Denver and back doesn't work financially. It was very convenient for me I'll tell you what.

Posted: Wednesday, January 22, 2014
Article comment by: Let It Die!

It exists for Emembry Riddle so let it be their headache and stop trying to turn it into something it isn't.

@ no privatedata Alan - PLEASE NO BIGGER PLANES they will violate the no fly zone over Bald Eagle nesting sites and suck the water out of Del Rio Springs.

Posted: Wednesday, January 22, 2014
Article comment by: no privatedata Alan

Great Lakes? Lets get rid of these folks and bring in a carrier with decent size airplanes -- the kind with lavatories,
cabin service, and perhaps jet engines!

Nobody wants to ride in a tiny air taxi with no restroom. Is this the best we can do? Duh! Is it any wonder that
fewer and fewer people are flying out of
our airport!

Posted: Wednesday, January 22, 2014
Article comment by: SEMI RETIRED

And right over the airport's flight paths . I have never in thirty five years had so much piece and quite . Down the idiots in the helicopters that seem to feel the need to drag their nose across my property AND there is NO airport . Maybe a first class speedway would bring in more jobs and raise the sad state of affairs this town's leaders have bestowed upon us . Otherwise it maybe time to give it to the youth to use as an RC track both ground and air .

Posted: Wednesday, January 22, 2014
Article comment by: @retired aviator

Great comment, for those who can't divide, it's a subsidy of $403.39 per passenger and as you point out that doesn't include the cost of T.S.A. personnel. Surely we can find more important things to do with our tax dollars!!!

Posted: Wednesday, January 22, 2014
Article comment by: Irritated Traveler

The TSA at Prescott is just one more reason to take the shuttle and fly out of Phoenix.

Posted: Wednesday, January 22, 2014
Article comment by: Another Observer

Re:"Go with another carrier Prescott"

If the article was correct as printed then you were being subsidized approximately $420
for each trip you flew out of Prescott on Great Lakes. That is what the Government was giving them each time you took a trip.

I'm so sorry you are being inconvenienced
by the dropping of the DEN connection, yet I'm happy that I won't have to pay for your next flight.

Posted: Wednesday, January 22, 2014
Article comment by: GET REAL

Why do we, as taxpayers, continue to subsidize the Prescott 'airport' which exists
primarilary to service students at Embry Riddle University ?

Let ERU purchase and manage this airport and let them run it as the private business. Then the 'users' rather than the general taxpayers
will pay for this facility.

Posted: Wednesday, January 22, 2014
Article comment by: Retired Aviator

This article indicated that approximately
5,200 passengers benefited by a Federal Subsidy of 2.1 million dollars. Your tax dollars.

Can you divide 2.1 mil by 5,200 ? And having
this scheduled 'air service' also mandated
TSA control of an otherwise General Aviation
airport.....another huge cost to taxpayers.

How many 'terrorists' have been detained or arrested while attempting to fly out of Prescott?

Posted: Wednesday, January 22, 2014
Article comment by: Jerry Prieto

Every time my wife or I have taken the Great Lakes flight to LAX, there have been several passengers who talked about having a flight from Prescott to Orange County, CA. Why hasn't the City of Prescott looked into this. The flights could be once a day, just to see how many passengers they attract.

Posted: Wednesday, January 22, 2014
Article comment by: Go with another carrier Prescott!

As people who flew this airline to Denver a few times per year, we are very disappointed with this decision. Now we're stuck with commuting to Phoenix for this short flight.

What makes this decision more disturbing is that this carrier signed a contract (with additional city subsidies) to continue services here, then Great lakes changes the rules. It's all about money and not their customers.

If this carrier can break its commitment to the people of our city, the city should break the commitment with the carrier.

Once again, this useless airport regresses backwards into the dark ages.

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