North America

Great Lakes Airlines Suspends Scheduled Flight Operations

Great Lakes Airlines Beech 1900D
Great Lakes Airlines Beech 1900D | redlegsfan21 CC BY-SA 2.0

American regional airline Great Lakes suspended scheduled flight operations last night.

The airline said in a statement:

“Although we are ceasing flight operations, it is important to note that the company has not entered bankruptcy and will continue to operate certain segments of the business. We will continue to support the ADI flights operating between Denver, Pierre and Watertown.”

The statement instructed customers holding tickets to seek a refund.

The airline was established by Doug Voss and Ivan Simpson and started operations on April 5, 1977. It began scheduled services on October 12, 1981, with flights between Spencer and Des Moines, Iowa. In February 1988, Great Lakes acquired Alliance Airlines, adding six cities around Lake Michigan to the route network.

In February 1992 Great Lakes signed a codeshare agreement with United Airlines becoming a United Express feeder carrier. From 1992 through 2002 Great Lakes operated extensive United Express operations with hubs at Chicago O’Hare and Denver and also at Minneapolis where United Airlines did not have a hub operation.

In late 1995 Great Lakes acquired the assets of Arizona Airways obtaining routes from a hub at Tucson International Airport to Phoenix and Page, Arizona, as well as to Albuquerque, NM, and to several points in northern Mexico. This operation ended in mid-1997.

Great Lakes’ status as United Express was downgraded in early 2002 when it became an independent carrier but still maintained an indirect codeshare agreement with United Airlines as well as establishing a new code share with Frontier Airlines. Since then Great Lakes has seen a steady decline in traffic and service to many cities has been dropped including the entire hub operation at Chicago O’Hare. The Minneapolis hub was also closed however a small operation there was reinstated on March 17, 2012 when Essential Air Service (EAS) routes formerly flown by Northwest Airlink carriers were obtained. The Minneapolis hub closed again by 2016.

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