All Great Lakes flights in Montana, after May 1, may be cancelled.
On Thursday, the members of the Essential Air Service board for Montana had a conference call with representatives of the two airlines bidding for the Federal Department of Transportation subsidy, Great Lakes Airlines and Gulfstream Airlines.
After several hours, the board voted 6-to-1 in support of Gulfstream taking up Montana flight service.
Decison made after four hours
“After four hours of talking on the telephone with these people, we finally put it to a vote,” Gerry Grabofsky, Havre City-County Airport’s representative, said. “Hopefully we will start getting better service up here.”
Grabofsky said he was one of the six votes for Gulfstream.
“Great Lakes didn’t have the answers that I thought they should have,” Grabofsky said. “It didn’t sound like they were going to try to do anything drastic to improve their service here.”
Grabofsky and the rest of the board wanted to hear Great Lakes’ plan to satisfy its critics and customers who were upset after frequent delays and cancellations had stranded many would-be fliers, including Grabofsky.
Feds will make final decision
The board recommendation will be put in writing and sent to the DOT for a formal decision, expected in the next month or so.
The department may make any decision, but with the 6-to-1 vote of the board, Gulfstream’s Vice President of Corporate Development Micky Bowman, is confident that the final decision will echo the board’s recommendation.
“I believe, from what I’ve been told, they did vote to support Gulfstream Airlines,” Bowman said.
Now he and the airline are getting ready.
Gulfstream making plans
“Well, we’ll need to get the action plan ready for starting service,” Bowman said, “get all of our logistics in place, including the service center in Billings and training our people. There’s a lot to do.”
This morning, Great Lakes Airlines had no comment on the board’s recommendation.
Representatives from the Federal Aviation Administration could not be reached.