Civil Aviation Board members aren’t feeling too civil about the city’s air service provider.
During a monthly meeting Tuesday, the board recommended City Manager Joe Thomas and Clovis Municipal Airport manager Gene Bieker draft a letter detailing concerns with the level of service Great Lakes Airlines has been providing since December, including a change in the route that will eliminate the Santa Fe stop May 1.
The letter will be taken to Tom Phelps, chairman of the board, for approval, then presented to the city commission for a final approval. Copies of the letter will then be sent to Great Lakes and the Department of Transportation. Great Lakes has received more than $1 million a year in federal subsidies through Essential Air Services to provide flights in and out of Clovis since 2006.
Doug Voss, owner of Great Lakes Airlines, and Chuck Howell, CEO, joined the meeting via conference call.
Great Lakes will be dropping service between Clovis and Santa Fe effective May 1. Replacing the Santa Fe leg will be flights to Pueblo, Colo. and Liberal, Kan. Both routes will offer connecting flights to Denver.
Phelps, along with other members of the board, expressed his disappointment to Voss and Howell about the short notice given that the Santa Fe flights will soon be dropped.
According to the two Great Lakes officials, virtually no passengers are flying to Santa Fe. Great Lakes statistics show single-digit figures for the number of passengers flying to Santa Fe on a monthly basis. The majority of passengers on planes to Santa Fe were on their way to Denver. United Airlines’ recent move into the Santa Fe market has also impacted business for Great Lakes, airline officials said.
Phelps told the two Great Lakes officials the “service has been atrocious,” and Phelps cited numerous late and canceled flights.
“You’re driving customers away,” Phelps told them. He said many people are beginning to fly out of Amarillo and Lubbock instead.
According to Phelps, the hospital will no longer be using Great Lake’s service to bring prospective employees such as doctors to town. He said doctors who flew in for interviews had flights canceled and re-routed.
“We are ashamed,” Voss said in response to Phelps.
Voss said in April Great Lakes will be closing down service to Las Vegas, which will de-stress the airline, resulting in improved service.