- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 22, 2014

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - Two airlines have announced new flights beginning this summer from airports in Hays and Great Bend, where there has been no service since late March.

United Express, operating by SkyWest Airlines, announced Monday that it will begin daily round-trip flights between Hays Regional Airport and Denver on Aug. 1. The 12 weekly flights will be on Bombardier’s 50-seat CRJ200 turbojets.

Officials at the Great Bend Municipal Airport announced in March that SeaPort Airlines, based in Portland, Ore., will begin offering 18 weekly round trip flights from Great Bend to Wichita and Kansas City in early June. The flights will be on nine-passenger Cessna Caravans.

The communities lost air service when Great Lakes Airlines announced it would stop serving the airports as a part of a larger reduction in services to several communities, The Wichita Eagle reported (https://bit.ly/1hkuUbD ). Previously, Great Lakes offered service from Great Bend to Denver, with a stop in Hays.

“Having access to reliable, local air service is critical for the economic development of communities and we look forward to the start of these new United Express flights in Hays,” Mike Thompson, SkyWest Airlines vice president of market development, said in a statement.

When Great Lakes stopped service in Great Bend, “we saw an opportunity there in Kansas,” said SeaPort executive vice president Tim Sieber. “Denver is a large airport with many connections. We think Wichita offers an easy connection relative to Denver.”

Great Lakes Airlines said it was reducing service to several communities because new federal requirements had caused a shortage of pilots for the airline.

In July, the Federal Aviation Administration announced it would require co-pilots to hold an Airline Transport Pilot certificate, which requires 1,500 hours of total flight time. Previously, co-pilots were required to have 250 hours of total flight time. The new rules also require co-pilots to have more training and testing specific to the airplanes they fly.


Information from: The Wichita (Kan.) Eagle, https://www.kansas.com

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