City will continue charging Great Lakes rent

Nov. 9--The city will continue to bill Great Lakes Airlines for room rental even though the company moved out of the airport on Nov. 3.

Dave Osborn, airport manager, told the airport board on Thursday that the city plans to hold Great Lakes to a contract that was never signed because the airline followed contract regulations for a year, and is thus legally bound to it. The contract stipulates that the airline rent space at the airport for $2,700 monthly.

Signs for the airline were removed Oct. 31 at the airline's request, said Bob King, assistant airport manager.

Great Lakes discontinued service to Aberdeen on Nov. 3 after Brookings lost its Essential Air Service money. The airline served Aberdeen for one year and received $450,000 in Small Community Air Service Development Grant money. While some airline officials say it has nothing to do with the situation in Brookings, Dave Osborn, Aberdeen airport manager, has said that grant has everything to do with Aberdeen's situation.

Osborn has said it makes more financial sense for the airline to fly from Huron and Pierre, both of which receive Essential Air Service money, to Denver. Aberdeen does not receive Essential Air Service money.

The airline used to fly from Aberdeen to Denver with a stop in Huron; and Brookings to Denver with a stop in Pierre. Mesaba Airlines, operated by Northwest Airlines, continues to fly between Aberdeen and Minneapolis.

Kyle Downey, with Sen. John Thune's office, said the U.S. House of Representatives passed a modified version of Thune's legislation to reinstate Brookings' Essential Air Service money on Tuesday. Now, the modified version will go back to the Senate Commerce Committee for review. If the committee agrees to the modifications, the legislation will be reviewed for possible approval by the full senate. If the senate decides to approve it, the legislation will move on to the president.

It's unclear what the reinstatement of Essential Air Service money to Brookings means for Aberdeen.

Osborn has said it could mean Great Lakes returns to Aberdeen, but Monica Taylor, sales and marketing director for Great Lakes, has said the airline has made its decision.

Dr. Kennon Broadhurst, airport board president, said he's made several attempts to contact Doug Voss, Great Lakes' president, but phone calls have gone unreturned.

Voss and other Great Lakes officials also did not return numerous phone calls from the American News.

Broadhurst said he doesn't believe the airline should be allowed to return to the Aberdeen area without signing a contract with the city.

In other action Thursday, the airport board:

-- Discussed the possibility of large flower pots on airport property. The board has been working with Beadle Floral to find a way to add landscaping to the area and make it more visually appealing.

-- Approved the pay request from Helms and Associates for $13,875 for design services for the reconstruction of taxiway 'D.'

-- Held its annual review of hangar rates. The rate will not change, and the board decided have a snow removal meeting at 10 a.m. Nov. 15.

-- Discussed surveying the general public and airport customers. The surveys would gather specific information such as whether other airports are more attractive than Aberdeen's and why.