The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has awarded Essential Air Service (EAS) contracts to Great Lakes Airlines to provide passenger air service from airports in Fort Dodge and Mason City. It is expected the two-year contracts securing Great Lakes service to Minneapolis will begin in the spring of 2012.
In July, Delta Airlines announced a series of service adjustments that would impact air service at airports in Fort Dodge, Mason City, Sioux City and Waterloo. Adjustments included the discontinuation of subsidized service in Fort Dodge and Mason City, and a possible discontinuation of service at Sioux City and Waterloo by the airline unless the service became subsidized through the EAS program.
In reaction to the Delta announcement, the U.S. DOT released a request for proposals in September for commercial air service in the four Iowa communities, as well as 19 additional communities in the Midwest. Additionally, the U.S. DOT ordered Delta to continue providing air service in those communities until new service is established under subsidy agreements through the EAS program.
Proposals to serve the Iowa communities were submitted in October. Fort Dodge and Mason City proposals from Great Lakes offered flights to Minneapolis three times daily from Fort Dodge and four times daily from Mason City using 19-seat Beech 1900 aircraft. Great Lakes service will be offered through Delta’s reservation system and interline ticket/baggage agreements are expected to be in place with American, Delta, Frontier, United and U.S. Airways. Proposals were also offered by Air Choice One and Sovereign Airlines.
For Sioux City and Waterloo, proposals came from SkyWest operating as Delta Connection offering twice daily service to Minneapolis, and American Eagle offering twice daily regional jet service to Chicago. Both communities have recommended the U.S. DOT award service to American Eagle, however, a final decision has not yet been announced.