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Great Lakes asks DOT to rebid airport service to Brainerd

Great Lakes Regional Airlines asked the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to rebid the airline service contract to serve the Brainerd Lakes Regional Airport.

Interim Airport Manager Rick Adair said Delta Airline will continue to provide service to Brainerd until a replacement can be found.

Great Lakes, which had been awarded the bid to serve Brainerd, is experiencing some growing pains, according to Adair and the airline also asked DOT to rebid service to International Falls, Rhinelander, Wis., and Iron Mountain, Mich. Adair said the Cheyenne, Wyo.-based airline had trouble acquiring suitable aircraft, difficulty in getting enough gates at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport and problems in certain markets with its ticketing service through Delta.

“They don’t want to keep compounding the problem,” Adair said. “They want to stop right now where they’re at and get at their problems.”

He said Great Lakes could rebid on the service under different specifications if it chose to do so.

Chuck Howell, chief executive officer for Great Lakes Airlines, confirmed the airline asked DOT to rebid the service contract, but declined to cite their reasons until the government agency put out the new requests for proposals.

DOT officials told Adair they planned to put out requests for proposals in the very near future. Adair said a typical process has DOT issuing the request for proposals and the airlines would be given 30 days to respond. Once a bid was awarded, the Brainerd community would have a period of time where elected officials and interested parties may make comments.

Adair said the rebidding poses no particular problem for the Brainerd airport other than extending the uncertainty about long-term air service. He is asking frequent users of the Brainerd airport to contact him at as he attempts to gather information that he may use to convince more airlines to submit bids to serve Brainerd.

Brainerd Lakes Regional Airport officials first learned they were likely to eventually lose Delta service in July of 2011.

MIKE O’ROURKE, associate editor, may be reached at 855-5860 or He may be followed at

Mike O'Rourke
Mike O'Rourke began his career at the Brainerd Dispatch in 1978 as a general assignment reporter. He was named city editor in 1981 and associate editor in 1999. He covers politics and writes features and editorials.
(218) 855-5860