The Havre City-County Airport Board is holding a meeting Wednesday night to see what people think about switching Havre’s destination for air flights from Billings to Denver.
Board Chair Bob Breum said the board wants to gather input about Great Lakes Airlines proposal. Airport board wants input on Denver flights
The airline, which provides the federally subsidized Essential Air Service for Havre, has said switching to Denver as the destination for Havre flights would greatly increase the number of connections available and potentially increase the number of people using the service.
“Great Lakes wants the schedule, but we don’t know if that’s what’s best for Havre,” Breum said, adding, “I kind of would hate to lose the Billings connection.”
Wyoming-based Great Lakes took over the Montana EAS flights in 2008 and 2009. Big Sky Airlines, which had provided the services since 1984, went out of business in March 2008.
The Havre flights, which land in Billings, started again in February 2009. Great Lakes also flies passengers from Glasgow, Lewistown and Wolf Point to Billings in the EAS program, while it transports EAS passengers from Miles City, Glendive and Sydney to Denver.
The Sidney EAS service allows flights to both Billings and Denver.
The flight would not be a true direct-to-Denver connection, with a short stop in Wyoming en route. That also is the case for the Montana towns already flying to Denver.
Great Lakes says passengers landing at the Billings airport can connect to 35 flights a day flying to six destinations, compared to 900 flights with 135 destinations at the Denver international airport.
Kassi Mohlencamp, spokeswoman for Great Lakes, said last week that most of the people flying into Billings from the EAS communities then catch a flight to Denver already.
After Great Lakes switched its destination for Glendive from Billings to Denver, she said, the number of passengers nearly doubled.
Some local leaders have said the switch to Denver would greatly improve transportation and also benefit Havre economically. They say the switch would make it much easier to bring people in for meetings or job interviews as well as making the area more attractive for businesses to locate here, while making it easier for Havre people to fly out, as well.
But not all are in favor of the switch, and some say Havre passengers should have both options.
Breum said the Billings flight makes it easier for people including to visit friends and relatives, and to make a connection for medical visits to doctors and specialists there. That is especially beneficial during the winter season, he added.
“That makes it kind of convenient,” he said.
Several people have commented on the issue on the Havre Daily News’ Facebook page.
One woman said she would rather keep the Billings destination, saying she has much more occasion to travel there and does not want to drive, particularly in winter.
Another man said the opposite. Most of his flights go through Denver anyway, he said. With the stops in Billings and Lewistown, it takes him five hours to get from Denver to Havre now, he added.
One woman who said she has family in Denver said having a direct flight would be “awesome. Both would be convenient,” she added.
Two people with single-word comments were split between Denver and Billings, and two others wanted both destinations.
A survey on the Facebook page with few people responding was evenly split this morning, with four respondents marking Denver as their preferred destination and four marking Billings.
The meeting to collect input on the question will be held at the airport meeting room at the terminal west of Havre Wednesday from 7 to 9 p.m.
On the Net: Great Lakes Airlines: www.flygreatlakes.com
Havre Daily News Facebook page: www.facebook.com/havredailynews