What was supposed to be 90 days has turned into 30.

PenAir gave 90 days’ notice to pull services from their Denver, Colorado hub — which includes air service to Dodge City — on August 7.

Late Tuesday night, PenAir announced it was ending all operations out of its Denver hub effective Monday, Sept. 11.

"The cessation of service is due to extraordinary and unforeseen circumstances beyond our control and beyond our ability to resolve — the precipitous massive loss of Saab-340 pilots and PenAir’s inability to replace them," said PenAir CEO Danny Seybert in the release. "As a result of our pilot resignations (totaling 17 pilot departures to date), it will be physically impossible for PenAir to continue to operate the Nebraska/Kansas flights beyond September 10. Our last flights to all communities out of Denver base will be (Sunday)."

PenAir announced last month it was filing Chapter 11 reorganization that would end up closing their Portland, Oregon, and Denver, Colorado, hubs.

PenAir was the Essential Air Service provider for the Dodge City Regional Airport with a triangular route between Dodge City, Liberal and Denver.

"PenAir is claiming extraordinary circumstances from the loss of pilots which occurred immediately following their public announcement of filing Chapter 11 bankruptcy," said Cherise Tieben, Dodge City city manager. "It is this claim that is allowing PenAir to immediately cease operations rather than provide the community with a time for transition to a new air service without disruption.

"The City of Dodge City is working with the U.S. Department of Transportation and our federal legislative delegation to aid in securing a new airline for the Essential Air Service."

The due date for proposals to start the review process of airlines desiring to serve as the EAS service for the Dodge City Regional Airport is Tuesday, September 12, 2017.

"Once an airline is secure, there will be a minimum of 60-90 days of transition time," said Corey Keller, Dodge City Regional Airport manager. "We are diligently working to ensure that a new airline is put in place as quickly as possible, as we understand how important it is to our residents to have commercial air service out of Dodge City."

Other locations affected are Crescent City, California and Portland, Oregon regional routes, and EAS routes between North Platte, Kearney and Scotts Bluff, Nebraska.

"The steps we are taking today will allow PenAir to emerge as a stronger airline, while continuing our focus on safe operations," said Seybert in a press release last month.

However, pilot resignations have made things more difficult for the airline. PenAir had evaluated whether it could operate a reduced service (e.g., 1 daily flight at the Kansas/Nebraska communities), and has determined that it could not do so without negatively impacting crews further from other PenAir EAS flights, which would adversely impact other PenAir EAS services at other communities and run the risk of more pilot departures, causing a further downward spiral.

PenAir is unable to transfer Saab-340 pilots from their Alaska or Boston hubs to Denver.

"Alaska pilots won’t move because they love the Alaska lifestyle and the fact that they are home every night with their families," said Seybert. "Additionally, Boston needs every available pilot to maintain current EAS at the communities served in and out of that hub. We are doing everything we can to enhance pilot retention however this is an industry wide challenge effecting all carriers including the majors."

According to Seybert, since filing for Chapter 11 protection, PenAir has experienced massive unanticipated pilot resignations, which are the main cause of the airline’s decision to cease the Nebraska/Kansas flights.

PenAir took their first flight for Dodge City on Oct. 27, 2016 after taking over for Great Lakes.

For more information contact PenAir at 800-448-4226.


To contact the writer email rbluhm@dodgeglobe.com.