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Three airlines interested in serving Brainerd

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Three airlines have submitted bids to serve the Brainerd Lakes Regional Airport, interim airport manager Rick Adair said Tuesday — Great Lakes Airlines, SkyWest Airlines and Sovereign Air Inc.

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The commission and area units of government now have approximately 30 days to express opinions on the proposals, which were submitted to the U.S. Department of Transportation.

“It’s always better to have options,” Adair said Tuesday morning after a Brainerd Lakes Regional Airport Commission meeting conducted at the airport. “All three bring distinct plans to the table.

Adair said a meeting has been scheduled for next week with Minnesota Department of Transportation officials to discuss the bids and possible Brainerd airport service tie-ins with the International Falls airport.

SkyWest Airlines, based in St. George, Utah, would fly 50-passenger CRJ 200 jets, which is the aircraft that currently serves the Brainerd airport through Delta Airline. Sovereign Air Inc., based in Belcourt, N.D., flies the Jetstream 41, a 29-passenger turboprop and a Dornier 328, a 30-passenger jet. Great Lakes Airlines, which won an earlier bid for service but asked that the service be re-bid, would fly Beech 1900s, a turboprop aircraft. Great Lakes is based in Cheyenne, Wyo.

Adair said he didn’t know the schedules the airlines would propose.

“There’s pros and cons to all of them,” he said. “We don’t have all the nitty-gritty details.”

Delta informed the Brainerd airport in July of 2011 that it would lose Delta air service at some point. The airline has continued to serve the Brainerd market since that announcement.

Lisa Paxton, Brainerd Lakes Chamber CEO, said in a news release she would work with Adair and Sheila Haverkamp, of Brainerd Lakes Area Econconomic Development Corp., to summarize proposals of the three airlines into a condensed version, which will allow the community to understand the proposals and respond to the U.S. Department of Transporatation. The summary will be published on chamberbrainerdlakes.com.

Earlier that morning the airport commission listened to Adair present the preliminary 2013 budget with expenditures and revenues of $952,919, approximately $5,000 more than last year’s. No action was taken on the budget at the meeting.

During the meeting commissioners heard Adair state he is expecting an increase in property insurance costs, which he attributed to the $7.4 million spent remodeling the airport terminal. He hoped the airport would see some savings in terms of energy efficiency.

New Commissioner Don Jacobson warned that government budget constraints and the general economy might result in some problems for the airport. He recommended formulating a list of “what-ifs” — possible plans to trim the budget if necessary.

“Next year is going to be a lot rougher than we anticipate,” he said.

MIKE O’ROURKE, associate editor, may be reached at 855-5860 or mike.orourke@brainerddispatch.com. He may be followed at www.twitter.com/MikeORourkenews.

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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
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