Great Lakes: Some service is better than no service

Airline set to start service to California in April

KINGMAN - While Kingman residents won't be able to shave time off their trips to Las Vegas or Phoenix in a plane, they will at least have commercial air service.

On Monday, Great Lakes Airlines announced they would begin operating flights beginning April 7 between Kingman and Ontario, Calif.

"From the airport standpoint it is extremely important we have commercial air service," said Robert Riley, director of economic development at Kingman Airport Authority Inc. "It is important that we can connect to the national transportation system."

Riley said requests from the public he has received were for flights to Las Vegas and Phoenix. He added he understands the efforts of Great Lakes to connect to the Las Vegas hub.

"In the meantime, service to Ontario beats no service," Riley said. "The key is to get into the national transportation system for our customers."

One flight leaves Kingman Monday through Saturday and another flight Sunday through Friday. From Ontario, one flight leaves Sunday through Friday, another Monday through Friday, and one flight arrives in Kingman on Saturdays. "We wanted to start service in your area," said Monica Taylor, director of sales and marketing at Great Lakes Airlines. "Some service is better than no service."

Kingman Airport has been without commercial passenger service since June 1 when Air Midwest terminated their flights. The same month, Great Lakes Airlines was award a two-year service contract from the U.S. Department of Transportation.

The $1,275,771 contract would require 12 trips a week to and from Kingman Airport. It also requires Great Lakes to provide service to Las Vegas, Taylor said.

"Las Vegas is the goal, but we've been running into a lot of roadblocks on the way," she added.

Taylor didn't elaborate on the roadblocks, though she said the line of communication with the U.S. DOT has been maintained on the issues. DOT has been very accommodating, Taylor said.

"When we figure out that puzzle down in Vegas, we'll already have service running," she said.

Great Lakes wanted to begin service to a large hub as soon as possible, she said.

"April 7 happens to be when our aircraft becomes available," Taylor said. "Another airport is closing down for six or seven months."

Great Lakes will take the airplane from the airport and use it for the Kingman flights. The airplane will be a temporary fix until three other aircrafts are built.

"Once we start the service, we're not going to stop it," Taylor said.

Ontario was chosen as a destination for Kingman because it is on the airline's flight path to their maintenance facility in Farmington, N.M. Because of the path, Great Lakes is also offering flights from Kingman to Farmington.

The schedule times are always subject to change, Taylor said. To purchase tickets, go to www.flygreatlakes.com, call the Great Lakes' reservation center at (800) 554-5111 or visit your travel agent.

The commercial airline currently provides service from Prescott to Ontario. They are no longer offering flights from Prescott to Phoenix, she added.

"We're doing so many changes still to the schedule; it's crazy," Taylor said.

Riley described the service to Ontario from Prescott as being successful and added that he can see how it might be successful here.

"In Kingman, there is a demand for flights to California," Riley said.

Great Lakes also provides scheduled passenger service at 65 airports in 17 states with a fleet of Embraer EMB-120 Brasilias and Raytheon/Beech 1900D regional airliners.