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With Denver Air now operating, Great Lakes reliability rising

Aug 21, 2016 By Daniel Bendtsen, Staff Writer

Although the number of passengers flying on Great Lakes Airlines continues to drop, airport manager Paul Griffin said cancellations and delays by Great Lakes have decreased recently as the carrier has been joined by Denver Air Connection.

Denver Air began serving Riverton Regional Airport on July 1.

"With a little healthy competition, it seems like (Great Lakes has) stepped their game up," Griffin said.

Still, eight of 31 Great Lakes flights were cancelled in July, and completed flights were an average of seven minutes late.

Denver Air flew 83 flights out of Riverton in July.

The flights were an average of 2 minutes early, and no flights were canceled.

Growth

The number of passengers that used Denver Air in July still is not available, but the number of passengers flying on Great Lakes has decreased every month this year.

Great Lakes had just more than 170 departing passengers in June, down to less than 130 in July.

Just three years ago, the airline averaged about 1,000 passengers a month.

An increase in marketing at the airport accompanying Denver Air's arrival seems to be encouraging Great Lakes, Riverton public works director Kyle Butterfield said.

Great Lakes dropped morning flights from its schedule in July but is considering restoring the early trips in coming months.

The airline also believes it can start offering 19-passenger flights again, as qualified pilots are becoming more available.

After new regulations on pilots were enacted in 2013, Great Lakes has had to fly a maximum of nine passengers at a time.

In June, Great Lakes signed a deal with Frontier Airlines that guaranteed a first officer job for pilots who have completed 1,000 hours of training with the regional carrier.

"It looks like we're getting some growth, and that's a positive thing," Riverton Airport Board chair Dean Peranteaux said.

When Great Lakes lost federal funding recently for its service to Worland, local officials feared the airline might leave Riverton, which would lead to an end of Transportation Security Admini-stration screening. Now, however, agreements are being finalized to provide TSA screening for Denver Air flights in October.

regardless of the Great Lakes outcomes.

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