The U.S. Department of Transportation has selected SkyWest Airlines to provide subsidized Essential Air Service (EAS) to the Brainerd Lakes Regional Airport.
The identity of the airline that would provide permanent air service to Brainerd had been in question since Delta Airlines informed airport officials in July of 2011 that it intended to eventually end its service to Brainerd. Delta had been and is continuing to serve Brainerd until a permanent air carrier is ready to take over.
Now SkyWest will serve Brainerd for a two-year period beginning when the carrier initiates full EAS service to Brainerd and three other communities.
Interim Airport Manager Rick Adair said he talked briefly with officials at the Utah-based SkyWest Tuesday and no tentative start date had been set.
The exact same type of aircraft that currently serves Brainerd air passengers, 50-passenger Canadair Regional Jet 200 (CRJ200) aircraft, will be used by SkyWest, he said.
Adair, who said he was pleased with the selection, added ticketing would continue to be done through Delta.
“This is what I’ve been striving for,” he said.
According to the DOT order, Brainerd would receive a minimum of 12 nonstop round trips per week. The order also selected SkyWest to provide Essential
Air Service at Iron Mountain/Kingsford, Mich., International Falls and Rhinelander, Wis. The service at each of the four communities includes flights with 50-passenger CRJ200 aircraft to Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP) for a two-year period beginning when the carrier initiates full EAS at all four communities.
The DOT had initially selected Great Lakes Aviation to provide air service but in June Great Lakes encouraged the Department of Transportation to re-solicit proposals. Great Lakes, according to the DOT order, said that it had recently experienced aggressive expansion and was in the process of re-engineering its business model (including its approach code-sharing and the associated reservation system infrastructure) and had concerns regarding the availability of gates and facilities to expand further at MSP.
The annual subsidy rate for Brainerd will $1,356,764, according to the DOT order.