Beginning November 1, the Kearney Regional Airport will welcome in a new airline carrier, PenAir and end service with longtime carrier Great Lakes Airlines.
After receiving seven bids from airlines across the country, the Kearney City Council unanimously recommended PenAir to the DOT in March. The U.S. Department of Transportation approved PenAir’s bid for Kearney’s two-year Essential Air Service contract in May and will begin service in Kearney on November 1.
PenAir was the only airline that submitted bids that met all five of the DOT’s Essential Air Service selection criteria, which included service reliability, contractual and marketing arrangements with a larger airline at the hub airport, interline agreements with a larger airline at the hub, support from elected officials, and the inclusion of a community marketing plan.
“We have begun meeting with community leaders from each of these three new communities and we’re working on a strong advertising campaign and becoming involved in these local communities”, said Dave Hall, PenAir’s Chief Operating Officer.
Kearney City Manager Mike Morgan said that in addition to the five DOT Essential Air Service criteria, that the PenAir aircraft fit the Kearney market and said that the research done by the city of Kearney indicates that Denver continues to fit as the best hub airport as well.
One of Alaska’s largest regional airlines, PenAir was founded in 1955 in Pilot Point, Alaska, and has remained headquartered in Alaska and under family ownership ever since. It is one of the largest regional airlines in both Alaska and the Northeastern U.S., and is one of the largest operators of its primary aircraft—the Saab 340—in the U.S.
PenAir begins twice-daily, scheduled service between Kearney and Denver, on November 1, then Scottsbluff and North Platte effective November 2.
According to Danny Seybert, PenAir’s CEO, “PenAir is thrilled to be expanding our service out of Denver, CO. We have been operating for 60 years throughout Alaska, for the last several years in the Northeast U.S., and most recently the Pacific Northwest. The initiation of service in Denver will provide customers with our Alaskan brand of reliable customer service and the benefit of our connectivity to flights with our codeshare partner Alaska Airlines.”