MASON CITY, Iowa – John and Pamela McGowan are heading to the golden state, and to get there, they booked a flight at their local airport instead of heading straight to the Twin Cities or Des Moines.
“We enjoy it here it’s nice for us to be able to park our car. Its secure here, no fees for your vehicle. It’s really a nice, convenient place for us to leave our car,” said Pamela.
But their trip is already hitting some turbulence.
They’re finding out that Great Lakes Airlines is suspending air service, and that will impact this couple’s ride back.
“If they do that today or tomorrow our car is going to be here and we’re going to end up in Minneapolis. So what are we to do, get a cab?” said John.
And that’s what Pam Osgood, Mason City’s Airport Manager, is worried about as well.
“Of course we were very concerned for our community and concerned for great lakes as well,” said Osgood.
Osgood says this isn’t the first time the airport has had to deal with this type of situation, but this time, the cause is different.
Great Lakes’ CEO says they’re stopping service at Mason City and five other locations because of a federal rule that went into effect in August of last year.
The new rules increase the number of hours a pilot has to have to get a certificate, and that’s leading to a nationwide shortage of pilots.
“I want people to realize that Great Lakes were placed in a very different situation in making this decision. They felt it was best for the communities that they’re serving right now that they were doing a disservice because of so many cancellations due to the pilots’ shortage,” said Osgood.
For John and Pamela, they’re just disappointed to see this airport at a standstill for now.
“We’re very sad to hear that happen not only is it going to effect us, but it’s going to affect a bunch of employees,” said John.
Currently, those who will be impacted at the airport are the Great Lakes Air Service employees and TSA agents.
Nobody else at the airport is out of a job.
As for the McGowans, they said they’ll just have to start driving to Rochester now for connecting flights.
According to Great Lakes, all customers with future flights booked will be given refunds.
Osgood says hopefully by next week, they will start making proposals for a new airline service.
Other communities losing Great Lakes: Fort Dodge, as well as an airport in Northern Minnesota, two in North Dakota, and one in Michigan.