A day after Great Lakes Airlines announced it was suspending service to and from Page, the U.S. Dept. of Transportation (DOT) issued an emergency request for proposals for replacement airlines to service Page and the other routes abandoned by the departing airline. The replacement airline will also be required to service Prescott, Arizona.
The request for proposal included this line. “Because of the emergency nature of this case, proposals are due by April 3, 2018,” and “interested carriers should prepare their proposals with every expectation that their initial proposals will represent their final and only proposals.”
After the DOT receives the proposals from the airlines it will review the proposals and also send them on to the Page City Council. The Mayor and City council will be given a short time to review the proposals and make their recommendation to the DOT, but ultimately it will be the DOT which makes the decision.
As part of its proposal each interested carrier will include in its proposals how many arrivals and departures it will make to Page each week. The carrier is free to open it up somewhat. For instance, they may choose to do four roundtrip flights to Phoenix each day, or it may choose to do two trips to Phoenix and two to Denver, or Salt Lake.
Carriers servicing Page do so under the Essential Air Service (EAS), which is a U.S. government program enacted to guarantee that small communities in the United States are served by certificated airlines. The U.S. government subsidizes carriers that cover EAS routes.
“It’s essential for places like Page,” said Page city manager Crystal Dyches “otherwise no one would serve unprofitable areas.”
Great Lakes Airlines suspended operations midnight March 26 without prior warning and they still haven’t issued a reason why.
America Aviation has made alternative charter flights convenient until a new EAS carrier is established.
“For now, we are doing what we can,” said Michael Preller, Marketing and Tour Office Manager for American Aviation. “We are getting calls from a lot of people for charter flights. Right now, there is no transport. We are trying to help the people fly in from Vegas, Phoenix and Denver.
“We are hearing the city is working on a quick solution. But too many things need to be done like FAA certificates, [etc.]. There are plenty of hurdles they have to conquer. The big Kahuna at Great Lakes said it was a pilot shortage. But I think it was because they lost [government] funding due to the amount of seats in the plane.”
American Aviation will accommodate travelers the best they can which can become pricey if pre-booked tours have to be shifted to prepare a charter flight. But for now, Page’s air travelers have established American Aviation’s services as the best alternative.