Big Sky Airlines will operate as a subsidiary of Mesaba Holdings by year-end if the Billings, Mont.-based Fairchild Metro III operator meets “certain labor conditions” set by its would-be parent company from Minneapolis. The proposed merger would create a new division within Mesaba Holdings, flying under an operating certificate and labor contracts separate from Mesaba Aviation.
Essential Air Service
Small communities and regional turboprop operations received what some consider unexpectedly generous support for the Essential Air Service program in late July, when the Senate Appropriations Committee proposed a funding package worth $128 million as part of the fiscal year 2003 transportation bill.
While many people may not be familiar with Maryland’s Hagerstown Regional Airport (HGR), President Bush’s pilots are. Air Force One has landed there so the White House entourage could be transported by helicopter to nearby Camp David.
The U.S. air transportation system lost one more source of “essential” service last month when Big Sky Airlines officially went out of business. Billings, Mont.-based Big Sky flew its last Beech 1900 service on March 8, leaving another seven communities isolated from the nation’s scheduled airline network.
The fabric of the air transport security blanket known as the Essential Air Service (EAS) program has frayed once again with the January 7 contraction of Big Sky Airlines–the now former lone link to the nation’s air trans- portation system for Cape Girardeau, Mo.; Jackson, Tenn.; Owensboro, Ky.; and no fewer than five communities in upstate New York.
Judging by a recently published U.S. General Accounting Office study on the effectiveness of government support for small community air service, subsidy proponents face an uphill battle against the Bush Administration’s proposal to cut EAS funding from $113 million to $50 million and eliminate the Small Community Air Service Development pilot program for fiscal year 2004.
Growth at Salina Airport in Kansas has been so rapid that the airport is running out of hangar and office space for businesses that want to move to the airport. A new $6 million hangar complex is under construction and is on track to open in the third quarter. The 69,000-sq-ft complex includes 41,400 sq ft of hangar space, 22,600 sq ft of office space and a 5,000-sq-ft customer service area.
The FAA is inviting comments on final changes to U.S. aircraft registry rules that are to take effect later this year under the Cape Town Treaty. The treaty clears the way for a new international registry and covers all fixed-wing aircraft certified to carry eight or more people (including crew) and helicopters carrying at least five people, as well as aircraft engines of at least 550 hp.
Quest Aircraft’s new Kodiak high-wing, fixed-gear turboprop single successfully completed its 50th flight on January 11, just three months after the aircraft made its maiden flight and some two years after the start-up company dedicated its 27,000-sq-ft research-and-development facility in Sandpoint, Idaho.
The Salina (Kan.) Airport Authority announced plans to build a new 69,000-sq-ft hangar and office complex in anticipation of continued growth at the SLN Aviation Service Center. Construction of the $6 million project, dubbed Hangar 600, is scheduled to begin this fall, and the facility is expected to be available to tenants in June.