Good Bye Big Sky

At 7:35 am yesterday Big Sky Airlines landed its last flight. The company had continued to fly its Montana EAS flights after declaring bankrupcy. Great Lakes will take over the EAS routes as soon as they have enough pilots and aircraft.

Yeah sad to see it. I did not work for them but did work for an airport authority who ground handled them for the several months they were here. Great crews and MX people I worked with. Management seemed pretty shady though.

with current fuel costs, flying EAS routes isn’t a very good proposition unless you have good economies of scale, that’s why you’re seeing it get reduced to just a few airlines: Great Lakes, Air Midwest, Colgan, and Mesaba.

Yeah but according to the passengers we boarded and deplaned, those BE1s, J31s, SF3s, etc are rubber band powered, so a good grilled cheeze sandwich and some spinning of the props to wind the rubber band (which is why the FO does it on arrival) should be all the fuel they need. Another interesting fact I learned from those passengers is that they jump puddles. :wink:

Colgan will be taking over a couple of the KALB Big Sky Routes that were operated; US Airways ground staff told me yesterday that they got a memo about it last week.

They have already begun flying KALB-KBOS.

yeah…not a good idea to rely on EAS. Personally, I think EAS is the dumbest thing in the airline industry. Most of the people in these cities drive an hour or so to another city with air service. I don’t thing more then a few would actually be flown by airline if the routes wern’t required.

NW’s service to DVL routinely has 2 to 3 seats booked out of 30.

Can you say “politician”? That’s all it is - pork barrel politics. I don’t mind a city receiving subsidized air service - as long as it is the city or county or state doing it, not the federal government.

One of the requirements to receive EAS is that the airport is more than 70 miles from a major airport. You’re right - that’s only an hour or so drive away, especially in places in the middle of nowhere, ND.

Heck, I am convinced that Mr. Oberstar has his own route to Hibbing. Not that the drive from Duluth or Minneapolis is far.

I suppose if the city pays for it, it isn’t bad, but the fed. gov. paying for it…

Sorry to interupt, but I got a slight Dumb question…whats the E in EAS stand for??..I asume AS is Air Service…I was thinking Express…but for some reason, I’m doubting myself…

E stands for Essential.

There is a genuine need for EAS in places like Alaska where the only routes in or out of some places is by air. There’s also some places in Montana and Wyoming that are legitimately 3 hours from the next closest commercial airport.

So you are saying that because people decide to live in an isolated place, the entire nation is obligated to provide them with air service?

Think of it as a bridge.

Here’s the latest US Subsidized EAS Report. It’s dated November 2007 and excludes Alaska.

If you want more details on a given airport, go to and enter the docket number or order number shown in the report into the first search box on the page. If you get too many results, click on the DOT link on the left hand side of the page where it says “Narrow Results”.

Good analogy.

A bridge, though, should only be built where it will get some real use. Building a bridge across a river in a major city or on an Interstate will get justifiable use. Building a bridge to nowhere isn’t very good.

Some of the cities receiving EAS (outside of Alaska) can be as much as $200 per passenger (that’s per passenger, not per flight).

By the way, remember the Bridge to Nowhere that was to be built in Ketchikan, Alaska? It was to replace a ferry linking the city and its airport. Well, the project’s been abandoned. See … bridge.htm

Yabbit! Why should a successful soybean farmer living near I-80 in Iowa pay taxes that support re-re-re-building your Bay Bridge (also part of I-80) which has cost 10’s of Billions of dollars to build, re-build and maintain? You pay a $4 toll to cross the bridge currently being re-built to the tune of $6.3 billion, making it the second most expensive public works project in the United States behind Boston’s Big Dig. By the time this project is finished, it will probably cost much, much more.

Yeah, but they’re still going to get the money and can use it for another hare-brained idea if they so desire.

Don’t look at me. For an organization that has many stupid plans, Caltrans (California Department of Transportation) has out done themselves in this one. They are trying to make a bridge earthquake proof and, I tell you what, it ain’t gonna work.

The toll? That’s just another example of politicians talking out of both sides of their mouths. Once the bridge bonds were paid off, the toll (i.e. tax) was suppose to go away. It’s been paid off already - several times.

The toll on the Golden Gate Bridge, not operated by Caltrans, is now $5 and they want to increase it to $6!

Back to the EAS. If I decide to live in Crescent City, California, that’s my decision. If I want to fly someplace, then I will pay for it. I don’t expect the federal government to subsidize my flight.

In many cases, it would cost the government less to purchase a bus or train ticket rather than subsidize the air fare. Additionally, the EAS provider is guaranteed a 5% profit. Can you name any other airline that is guaranteed a profit for operating a route?

…a wasted bridge, with money falling off it in the millions. EAS is so expensive. The biggest waste is that 80% of people in these towns drive to another city to get air service anyway. It totally defeats the purpose! Plus, it isn’t like there isn’t roads or buses to cities with air service.